How to protect yourself from ATM skimming

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Three Romanian nationals are headed to prison after being sentenced for ATM skimming, ID theft, and racketeering.

According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, the three Romanian citizens were sentenced to prison in Federal Court in Boston for their part in a multi-state ATM skimming scheme.

The schemers struck in several cities and towns across Massachusetts, including in Amherst, Chicopee, Southwick, and Whately.

In just 18 months the group installed skimming devices in seven states.

Lelling said the group was getting credit card numbers and pins by placing skimming devices inside of ATMs, many of them throughout Massachusetts.

Victims who had their accounts hacked, said if you don’t catch it quickly, the charges can really rack up.

“Like upwards of $3,000. Thankfully almost immediately,” Javier Galarza of Springfield told 22News. “If I had been doing something else and busy, God knows.”

ATMs and gas stations are common spots for schemers to place these skimmers. Card skimmers can be hard to see, because they’re made to blend with the machine they’ve been attached to.

According to The Balance, a personal finance site, one sign of a skimmer is if the card reader is sticking far out. The skimmers are designed to be placed over the real card slot.

For this reason, a loose credit card reader can also be a sign. Because skimmers can be so hard to spot, your best bet may be monitoring your accounts to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.

That’s why Galarza says he now gets email notifications connected to his card.

“I’ve had issues with my credit card and ID and my identity being stolen, so checking my emails constantly is a thing I do every day,” he told 22News. “Making sure no one else is getting on to my account, and it happens often.”

Using credit cards or cash is one way to protect yourself. Federal law limits your liability for fraudulent charges to $50, but wait more than two business days to report charges to a debit card, and you could be liable for as much as $500.

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