Iowa Being Hit By International Scammers
Watch your bank account. Iowa is being targeted by people that travel to the Hawkeye State looking to steal your money.
The Des Moines area is being hit by thieves who are able to electronically get the "key" to your bank account. This comes just a month after a warning from Cedar Rapids Police. Here's how they're doing it:
KCCI says an investigation has unveiled an international crime ring, using a plastic piece at ATM machines. The thieves reportedly glue the piece to the ATM and when someone swipes their debit card, their information is saved by the fake reader. Thieves then make new cards and start spending your money. Reports have come from Des Moines, Altoona, Grimes, Clive, and Ankeny. Just this week, the boyfriend of one of my co-workers here in Cedar Rapids had someone attempt to charge $4,000 to his debit card. The bank flagged it immediately. The kicker? The attempted purchase was in Mexico.
Just this week, the boyfriend of one of my co-workers had someone attempt to charge $4,000 to his debit card. The bank flagged it immediately. The kicker? The attempted purchase was in Mexico.
The thieves sometimes take different approaches, other than the plastic piece mentioned earlier. Sometimes they replace the keyboards of ATM's to steal your PIN number and have even been known to totally replace a machine.
Here's the scariest part of all. Maurio Coleman, a Detective with the Clive Police Department tells KCCI, "Once it goes through there, it's stored onto that skimmer device and then the bad guys come back, usually because the things are Bluetooth. I've seen indications that these individuals can be from California, they can be from the Florida area, they can be from Minnesota."
While you're pumping gas, a thief could be somewhere in that same parking lot stealing your info via the bluetooth. That means a thief could be standing across the parking lot and remotely stealing account information at the same time you're pumping gas.
ATM thefts are down approximately 70 percent in Europe where chipped cards are now the norm. As the United States makes the switch to chipped cards, we're a big, and easy target. So how can you protect yourself? Here are four recommendations from Bankrate:
- Since hidden cameras are sometimes used to record numbers you should cover your hand when entering your PIN number.
- Limit ATM visits and use ones you're familiar with.
- Check your balance often. The sooner you report fraud the lower your liability.
- Study the ATM. If you feel it's been tampered with in any way, don't use it and report your concern to your financial institution.