DENVER – Thieves are always looking for ways to steal from you when least expect it, and the Denver Police Department wants you to be aware of just one of the many ways these criminals operate and how you can go about protecting yourself and your wallet.
In a Facebook post shared Saturday, the department said a police officer conducted a business check at a convenience store in the 3400 block of West Colfax Avenue on Wednesday when he observed a loose scanner on the ATM machine of the business.
The officer then gave the scanner a light pull and doing so revealed a second scanner attached to the ATM – a credit card skimmer, a machine that grabs data from the card’s magnetic strip which criminals can use to clone cards or hack into bank accounts in order to steal money.
Police said some skimmers are so sophisticated that they don’t prevent ATM or credit card readers from functioning properly once the card is inserted into this machine.
To keep you and your money safe, the police department has the following tips so you don’t fall victim to theft:
1. Check for tampering. Examine any ATM or gas pump before you insert your card. If something appears off or inconsistent with the rest of the machine (color or materials used), don’t use the ATM. Also, give the keyboard a look-see. If it feels thick, like a protector was placed over it, it may have a pin-snatching overlay, police said.
2. Push and pull at everything. ATMs and gas pumps are solid machines and nothing on the machine should jiggle or be loose. Police said you should push and pull at the protruding parts, like the card reader and the keyboard. Also, when you insert you card into the reader, wiggle it. This will foil the attempts of the skimmer to grab the data from the card.
3. Be aware of your surroundings. When entering your PIN, police said, cover the keypad to prevent someone from nabbing the digits over your shoulder. Also, frequent busy ATMs and grocery stores. Outdoor ATMs and less-frequented stores are more likely to have machines that have been tampered with, because they are more accessible to thieves, according to police.
4. Use near field communication (NFC) transactions. NFC transactions, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay, tokenize credit card information, protecting personal information, police said in the post.
5. Use fraud detection services. Most banks and credit cards will reach out to customers should they notice something suspicious on your account, Denver police said. Pay attention to these alerts. Catching any criminal activity early will help you put a stop to it and recover any lost funds, should you become a victim.