Reported by David Waterman, affiliate WVOC in Columbia
The U.S. Secret Service is warning residents in South Carolina and four other states about skimming devices attached to automated teller machines (ATMs) that can copy of your personal account information when you swipe your debit or credit card – -data that scammers can later use to commit ID theft. Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service in Columbia, Michael Williams says:
These skimming devices would fit actually over the card reader. And if you aren’t paying close attention, you would think that this is actually part of the ATM. But it actually protrudes a little bit farther out than your actual card reader, so when you insert your card, the scammer is able to capture all the electronic information that’s attached to your ATM card or your credit card prior to being processed by the bank.
One of those devices turned up April 1, 2010 on the ATM at the Publix supermarket off Harbison Boulevard in Columbia. The Secret Service monitored the area and removed and confiscated the device before any bank accounts could be compromised. Williams says they have video footage of the individual who actually placed the skimmer on “and we’re working it with offices in other states.”
Williams says their investigation is centering on scammers associated with a Bulgarian criminal group that targeted bank accounts in South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. He says they believe this same Bulgarian criminal group has also targeted ATM locations with the skimming devices in the Upstate and the Lowcountry, so investigations are also underway in Greenville and Charleston.
He urges consumers to carefully check ATMs at stores, banks, and gas stations for anything unusual when conducting credit or debit card transactions:
Make sure that it’s a permanent attachment to that ATM. If you can move it, shake it, if it can come off, then it’s probably a skimming device. And that being the case, I would alert the grocery store or bank or local police or the Secret Service.