North County Neighborhood Watch communities,
I recently learned that an ATM skimmer was likely installed this weekend on an exterior ATM in the East Lake Road area. These devices unfortunately appear on ATMs (usually on nights and/or weekends) and collect debit card information while customers are withdrawing funds. The collected information is then used to create a “clone” of the customers card and the criminal can now withdraw money or make purchases using the cloned card.
Please be alert and look for anything that seems out of place. These skimmers are created especially for ATMs and are molded and colored the same as the actual machine. In addition, the criminal needs the PIN number to complete the cloned card. These numbers are collected using fake keyboards that lay over the existing keyboard and record the PIN numbers entered. Sometimes a tiny camera is used instead of a false keypad. These cameras are placed above or next to (hidden in a card holder) but in sight of the key pad. Again, the purpose is to record the PIN numbers entered during each transaction.
Please be cautious especially using outside ATMs, although sometimes inside ATMs have been compromised. I suggest avoiding temporary ATMs that have been set up for special events since the security of such devices many times can’t be validated. Also, it can be helpful to cover as much of the keypad with one hand while entering numbers with the other, even if no one is around.
I also recommend that debit cards be used as “credit” when making a purchases. If the card information is obtained by hackers, the card cannot be used as a debit (which would immediately drain your checking account) but instead as a fraudulent credit card purchase. This gives you up to 30 days to realize the problem and protects your checking account.
Below is some photos of the tools criminals use to collect debit card information.
As a reminder, I like to speak to each Neighborhood Watch community once a year. These meetings can answer questions and address concerns from residents. In addition, I give presentations on numerous topics such as:
· Burglary/Theft Prevention
· ID Theft Prevention
· Avoiding Scams
· Internet / Social Media Safety for Parents & Children
· and many other topics
Presentations can be requested also for schools, civic & religious groups and businesses.
If I can be of any assistance please feel free to contact me,
Deputy Charles Skipper
Crime Prevention Unit
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
10750 Ulmerton Rd. Largo, Fl. 33778
Work – 727-582-5661