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Police Department Public Information Message
ATM Scams at Bank of America -- Be Aware and Be Safe
Posted Date: 12/5/2013 6:00 AM

There are several ways to be scammed at the ATM:  double swiping, grabbing, skimming and shoulder surfing.  Aside from sticking a gun in your face and taking your cash, these are the primary scams thieves use to separete you from your cash at the ATM.

San Francisco PD is searching for two men accused of targeting ATM customers in a "shoulder surfing" scheme.  Investigators said the two are part of a coordinated group of thieves who peer over ATM cardholder's shoulders as they enter their PIN.  The four digit PIN is then sent via text to the group.  One of the group will then get in line behind the victim and use their PIN to get the cash.  Officers said ATMs operated by Bank of America have been targeted because of a flaw in the system when users don't completely log out.  Once the customer is finished, the ATM will ask if another transaction is wanted but most people don't realize that, they just walk off with the screen still accessible.  With the question still on the screen, the thief steps up and answers "yes", enters the victim's PIN and withdraws cash.  Bank of America is addressing the problem and stresses the importance of keeping PINs as private as possible.

The Mill Valley PD has taken two reports and fielded several phone calls from residents that have been scammed at Bank of America locations in Mill Valley. The two-man teams wait for a person to approach the ATM.  Once a person is at one ATM screen, a person from the team occupies the other ATM.  The other team member stands behind the victim and either watches for the PIN or moves closer and/or engages in conversation.  Several residents have reported this type of suspicious behavior at the Bank of America ATMs.

Be aware of suspicious behavior at the ATM, like someone crowding you, watching too closely, or trying to distract you with conversation.  If you see or experience anything suspicious, immediately notify your bank and contact your local law enforcement agency.

"Double swiping" can occur at the ATM but the oldest and most common scam usually happens at a restaurant or retail shop.  This involves someone swiping your card at the point of contact and then swiping it in a second device that captures the card number.
"Grabbing" was popular a few years ago with thieves affixing a device to an ATM card reader that grabbed the card so the owner couldn't remove it.  Sometimes, the thief would offer to help the stuck consumer, suggesting the victim try to enter the PIN a few more times while the thief observed and memorized it.
"Skimming" is the popular scam these days.  Thieves install counterfeit readers in ATMs to capture care information and also use tiny cameras and fake keypads to capture PINs.  The U.S. Secret Service, which investigates these types of electronic crimes, recommends that consumers make sure their cards are only swiped once and that they cover the keypad when entering PINs.

For more information on ATM scams, please access these links:

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