A police alert about a rash of ATM skimmer discoveries has Chicagoans rethinking how they use the bank money machines.
Thirteen skimmers were found as of Monday afternoon. Many were found in the downtown area and on the North Side.
Experts like William Kresse, a professor at Governors State University, say the skimmer business is still booming despite the deployment of cards with chips a few years ago.
"As the ability of organization to use that mag stripe goes away, one of the places that uses the magstrip for that information is the ATM," he said.
Other times they can be so small as to fit inside the card slot itself.
Increasingly thieves use bluetooth technology so they don’t have to retrieve the information from the physical skimming devices, Kresse said.
Thieves need both your account number and your pin to access your money. Some crooks have installed cameras and even fake keypads to get it.
Kresse says using a nonmagnetic card like a business loyalty card to check for a skimmer hidden inside the card slot.
Those locations, as well as the date the skimming devices were used, include:
- Associated Bank in the 5200 block of North Central Avenue on Sept. 23
- Walgreens in the 1500 block of West Fullerton Avenue on Sept. 26
- 7-11 in the 10700 block of South Ewing Avenue on Sept. 27
- Walgreens in the 1600 block of West Belmont Avenue on Oct. 2
- Fifth Third Bank in the 600 block of West Diversey Parkway on Oct. 4
- Chase Bank in the 5600 block of West Montrose Avenue on Oct. 6
- Walgreens in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue on Oct. 8
- Walgreens in the 2300 block of West Irving Park Road on Oct. 8
- Fifth Third Bank in the 0-100 block of West Division Street on Oct. 9
- Walgreens in the 3100 block of West Irving Park Road on Oct. 11
- Walgreens in the 200 block of West Madison Street on Oct. 12
- Walgreens in the 100 block of North State Street on Oct. 12
- Walgreens in the 0-100 block of West Monroe Street on Oct. 18
In some of these instances, a camera was also placed at the ATM to record PIN numbers as they were entered, police said.
The community alert from police was issued a day after the Better Business Bureau put out its own warning about the three devices found most recently at Walgreens stores in Chicago’s Loop.
To combat the theft of account information or even your identity, experts advise you to inspect a machine before swiping your credit or debit card.
“The Better Business Bureau recommends twist. Twist it, see if it’s actually an actual machine, the card reader, to see if it falls off or something on top of it,” said Chicago BBB President Steve Bernas.
Walgreens said Friday that a third party owns and operates the ATMs in its drugstores, and the company planned to inspect the machines at each of its Chicago locations. [[452266453, C]]
“Any business that offers an ATM as a convenience to their customers could face this issue,” a spokesman for Deerfield-based Walgreens said in a statement.
“The ATMs in our drugstores are owned and operated by a third party and at our request they will immediately begin to inspect all ATMs in our Chicago locations,” the spokesman added.
Chicago police also recommend that you cover your hand when entering your PIN number as an added precaution. Anyone who has used the machines at these locations should also monitor their accounts for any suspicious activity.
If you see any type of irregularity when placing your card into the reader, or if you suspect that a skimming device has been installed, authorities ask that you notify the establishment or call 911 to report the incident.