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Police Warn Of Increased Skimming Incidents

Posted at 8:09 PM, Apr 19, 2016

Your bank account could be at risk of a crime due to the growing popularity of ATM skimming.

The crime is nothing new, but according to FICO, incidents of the crime rose more than 500 percent between 2014 and 2015.

"Credit card fraud is the new-age bank robbery," said Sergeant Michael Warren with the Metro Nashville Police Department Fraud Unit. 

A $36 billion industry worldwide, Metro Police deal with credit card fraud every single day. Recently, skimming has been an increasing problem.

"The way a skimming device works is it's reading a magnetic strip on the back of the credit card," Warren explained.

Anywhere you can insert a credit or debit card, such as an ATM or gas pump, you can become a victim of skimming. 

Thieves tamper with the machine by adding a device to read your card, then by installing a camera. That way, they can watch you punch in your PIN number. 

The thieves will then manufacture a copy of your card and use it without your knowledge.

Most skimmers are installed overnight and removed by the morning, so they're not easily detected, but because most skimmers are temporary, they can show signs they've been tampered with.

"Always look at that ATM before you use it," said Colin Barrett, president of the Tennessee Bankers Association. "If there's anything suspicious at all, don't use that ATM."

According to software company FICO, 60 percent of skimming incidents occur at privately owned ATMs. Barrett explained that's because banks take steps to make sure their machines aren't tampered with. "All of our banks, every morning, are going out and monitoring those ATMs." 

Barrett believes there are more instances of ATM skimming than ever due to the changes in technology. New chip technology in credit and debit cards make skimming a thing of the past.

"As ATMs begin taking this new chip technology, this kind of crime is going to become obsolete," Barrett said. "I think criminals are doing a big push to try to profit while they can." 

Police suggest when you approach an ATM, keep your hands over the keypad to stop a camera from seeing your PIN number, and don't use the ATM machine if it seems suspicious. 

Customers who fall victim to fraud such as skimming are not liable for funds stolen from their account, but they are expected to contact their bank and police within a timely manner if they fall victim to fraud.