Santa Barbara Police Department detectives have recently discovered several more ATM skimming devices following dozens of reports last month of unauthorized withdrawals.
These fraudulent withdrawals are carried out by inserting small devices into the card slot of an ATM machine. These devices are virtually undetectable. Once someone inserts their card into the slot, the device is able to “skim” the strip on the back of the card, collecting account information embedded in the magnetic strip. Simultaneously, a hidden camera aimed at the PIN pad captures the victim’s security PIN. The suspects who planted the device will retrieve it within a few days, then download the information and clone the debit card information onto a blank debit card.
The devices were found on Bank of America ATMs across Santa Barbara, and it is suspected that the group responsible for placing these devices has been targeting several communities up and down the coast of California, according to Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale, public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Over $50,000 in fraudulent withdrawals have been made to date, though the true amount is likely much larger. Detectives believe the suspects have been targeting those with Employment Development Department (EDD) cards, as these cards generally do not have the EMV security chip.
The police department suggests speaking directly with a bank teller to protect your card’s information, or to transfer funds from an EDD card onto a card protected with an EMV chip. The department also advises to not use ATMs that seem damaged or tampered with.