INDEPENDENCE, Mo — A credit card skimmer was found on the ATM at a credit union in Independence, but not before the suspect got away with thousands of dollars.
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, people don’t pay as much attention to their surroundings and how they use personal information like a credit card. Thieves know that and are getting more savvy about how they steal your money.
Independence police are looking for a man they say put a skimmer on an ATM at the United Consumers Credit Union on 24 Highway and stole multiple people's card information.
“A skimmer is something that is usually applied to, like, an ATM device that allows a third party to get the numbers off of your credit card or debit card,” Independence Police Officer Luis Virgil said. “Some of them use a camera in conjunction with it to allow them to actually see you enter your pin as well.”
To protect yourself from this sort of scam, first, check out the ATM or gas pump or anywhere you put your credit or debit card. If something looks suspicious, don’t use it.
Before you put your card in, tug on the card reader. If it's loose, don’t use it. Then make sure to always cover your hand when you enter your pin to protect your information from cameras.
Once the criminal has your card number, they can do anything with it until you close the account.
“It does increase in the holiday season. I think people take advantage that everybody is out and buying a lot more stuff now,” said Chris McCreary, president of United Consumer Credit Union.
After multiple people reported unauthorized card use, the camera system at the credit union showed a man, walking up to the ATM and attaching a card skimmer. Several hours later, he came back and removed it after getting enough information to ring up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.
“First thing we thought is he is an idiot because he didn’t cover the camera, which most likely we figured he was new at this,” McCreary said.
Most stolen information is sold on the black market and used quickly before the victim can cancel the card.
Although McCreary said scams like these are getting worse, new technology could help stop it.
“All of the technology on the chip is harder to produce where the mag strip is easier, plus it has been around a lot longer,” McCreary said. “So they can reproduce that mag strip. It would be nice if they took the mag strip off of the back and just went with the chips, but like I said, here it is not happening.”
Police warn that this isn't the only scam going around now. Telephone scams are also very popular at this time of the year. If your intuition tells you something is not right, listen to your gut.