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This is an important article by Claudia Buck of the Sacramento Bee. The Cliff Cottam Insurance Team wants to alert consumers to be careful when using their atm cards!

ATM thieves, using a skimming device to steal customer information, have struck the Broadway branch of California Bank & Trust in Sacramento, bank officials said this week.

The suspects are believed to have attached a device to the bank's outside ATM machine at 1331 Broadway. It was used to steal customers' debit card information and possibly cash.

"While the situation has been contained, some money was stolen during the attempt. We have taken action and are currently working with customers impacted, as well as with law enforcement authorities," said Steven Borg, a California Bank & Trust senior vice president, in a statement.

Due to an ongoing law enforcement investigation, the bank declined to identify how many customers were affected, the amount stolen or precisely when the alleged ATM skimming activity occurred.

In the Sacramento region, ATM skimming incidents are not uncommon, say police.

"It's an old trick that's been going on for a while," said Sacramento Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Pettit.

In July, Citrus Heights police arrested two suspects accused of using an ATM skimming device at a Chase bank branch on Auburn Boulevard.

And in January, two men were sentenced to prison for skimming $90,000 from debit card readers at gas station pumps throughout the Bay Area and the Sacramento region, according to the state attorney general's office.

ATM skimming devices usually fit over the factory-installed card reader. When a customer inserts a debit card into the phony reader, "their account info is swiped and stored on a small attached laptop or cellphone or sent wirelessly to the criminals waiting nearby," according to the FBI.

In addition, crooks often install hidden cameras or thermal keypad covers that read a card's personal identification number as it's being entered.

How to avoid getting scammed? Banks and law enforcement offer these suggestions:

"Anytime you use your debit card at an ATM, put one hand over the keypad while you're punching in the number," Pettit said. "That's what I advise my friends and family."

Other recommendations:

• Be aware of your surroundings, especially in tourist areas, and use ATMs only in well-lit locations.

• Don't select an ATM at a building corner, which can be a blind spot. Be aware of people in nearby parked cars or anyone in a position to view your transaction.

• Don't use ATMs if the keyboard options are unfamiliar or make you uncomfortable.

• Avoid using easily identified sequences for your PIN (e.g., birth date, anniversaries, address numbers).

• Skimming devices are often attached for short periods of time, sometimes by nothing more than double-sided tape. Check for unusual stickers, tape residue or other signs of tampering. If the card reader looks abnormally bulky, do not use it.

Use these tips to keep you safe!


Posted 3:41 PM

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