Skimming scam hits Tri-state; Evanston grandmother speaks out

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -- Theft from ATM skimming now tops one billion dollars annually. According to the U.S. Secret Service, the number of attacks is on the rise. It's a trend an Evanston woman knows too well.

Sandra said she used an ATM at a U.S. Bank off University Road. Sandra asked us not to use her last name.

U.S. Bank spokesperson Lisa Clark told Fox19 that someone stuck a device called a "skimmer" on the ATM. The device fits over the card scanner, and copies your information.

Police said it did just that. The worst part? The crooks are still out there.

Norwood police said they've been investigating the issue for weeks. The problem is several banks in several Ohio cities have been targeted.

Sandra said she was shopping online on Monday when she discovered the issue.

"My card was declined," said Sandra. "So I called the bank, and when I called the bank, they sent me to the fraud line. That's when she told me that everything had been canceled-- my card. The bank account was frozen."

But she had no idea why.

Sandra had enough money in the bank, but a U.S. Bank customer service representative told her she had become a victim of skimming.

The issue was discovered on Tuesday. Sandra went into the Bank on Wednesday, but she won't get a new card for another week.

"Which was not good for me because it's my birthday," said Sandra. "I had to cancel my trip plans. Big inconvenience."

No money was taken from Sandra's account, but she said a local bank teller told her that she wasn't the only one; adding that thousands of dollars had been stolen from other customers' accounts from the U.S. Bank branch off University Drive, and other banks throughout the Tri-state.

Norwood police told FOX19 they first heard about this skimming scam a few weeks ago.

Detectives said they knew of two banks that were affected. Including the U.S. Bank that Sandra used. Officers said they found a skimming device still on one of the ATMs.

Clark couldn't tell FOX19 the exact number of those affected. Clark did say the company is working with law enforcement to catch the crooks.

Consumers are not held liable for fraudulent losses. Clark said the victims will be reimbursed.

Meanwhile, Sandra is determined to not let it spoil her birthday. It's this Friday the 13th.

There are several things you can do to protect yourself.

  • One easy tip to remember is to tug on the card reader at the ATM. Experts tell us a skimmer should come right off.
  • Look around the ATM. Scan the ceiling and any brochure racks. Make sure nothing looks out of place. Any wires, or possible hidden cameras, or even a piece of plastic sticking off the card reader could be hints of trouble.
  • To protect your pin number, experts recommend cupping your hand over the keypad.
  • Check your bank account online on a daily basis. Look for any fraudulent charges.
  • If you are skimmed, file a fraud report with your bank as soon as possible.
  • Consumers can buy lead lined sleeves and wallets to block skimmers from picking up your new RFID enabled credit cards, but ultimately consumers just have to stay on top of what's going on and protect sensitive financial information like never before.

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