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ATM skimming can be avoided


by Jenn Jarvis

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- The Cedar Rapids Police Department is investigating three ATM thefts by "skimming" that have occurred in the last month. But, there are ways to protect yourself.

Skimming is stealing credit card information by putting a device that reads the magnetic strip of the card over the card slot on an ATM.

This captures all of the card's information including the pin number, and the thief then has all the information needed to use your bank card.

But, for many of us, ATM's have become a part of everyday life.

"I go to the ATM weekly, very seldom do I go into a bank office," Cedar Rapids resident Bill Nicholson said.

Nicholson had never heard of skimming before this week. And, police are using this opportunity to encourage everyone to be alert when using an ATM.

"You definitely need to be alert the whole time and watch around as you're approaching and then also look around you as you're doing your transaction," Cedar Rapids Officer Shannon Stokesberry said.

Here's some things to keep in mind when you walk up to an ATM:
Look to see if there's anything unusual on the front of the card reader
If it's difficult to put your card into the card reader, don't use the ATM
Look around to see if there's anyone suspicious hanging aournd
Cover the keypad when you enter your pin number
Watch the ATM as you leave to see if anyone comes out of a hiding spot or walks up and removes something from the ATM

And always closely check your statements at the end of the month.

"Keep a log of the date and time and where you do your transactions so that way when you check your bank statements later on and if you have any suspicions about, you know if there's other activity in your account that you didn't do, then you'll have that to back you up," Stokesberry said.

And for Nicholson, he always uses an ATM he feels comfortable with.

"I'm not usually concerned about an ATM unless it's at night and then I would pick one that's in a well lit area with a lot of people," he said.

Police say a few instances of skimming shouldn't keep you from using ATM's. And many banks regularly check their ATM's to make sure there is no skimming device on them.

If you think someone may have stolen your information, contact your bank and the police department. And if you notice someone suspicious around an ATM, try to get a description and license plate number.

Online Reporter: Jenn Jarvis

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