DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Scams can happen to anyone; advice for protecting yourself

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Did you know you could have your bank account hacked simply by getting money out of the ATM?

Well it is possible. It is done through a small device called an ATM skimmer. It reads and copies your bank card information.

Skimmers have even been found in Erie and Crawford Counties. You might remember back in June when dozens of Conneaut Lake and Vernon Township residents were affected by fraudulent ATM transactions.

“I checked my bank account and sure enough, somebody had withdrew $500 plus a $3.50 fee, so it was $503.50 all together,” said Charity Greenawald, victim.

Charity Greenawald was one of the people who fell victim to an ATM skimmer after she used a Marquette Bank ATM.

“We got a hold of the fraud department and cancelled his card immediately. I called state police and we did file a report with the state police,” said Greenawald.

The Vice President of Marquette Bank says there have been no new ATM skimmer incidents since June.

The VP of Marquette Bank released a statement saying:

“At the time of the incident, deep insert anti-skimming devices were not available for our machine model. They are available now and have been purchased to mitigate this risk going forward.”

“Just go to the bank and get cash. Avoid all those unnecessary hassles,” said Fong Mak, Cyber Security Professor, Gannon University.

Fong Mak, a Cyber Security Professor at Gannon University says ATM skimmers have been around since 2009, but the technology has gotten more and more sophisticated over the years.

“It’s not only restricted to ATM’s. They can apply to restaurants, they can apply to any electronic device that uses a scan card,” said Mak.

To make sure your card information is safe at an ATM, Mak recommends:

  • Only using ATM’s at banks you know and trust
  • Go to ATM’s close to the bank of your choice. Those banks usually have cameras on or above the ATM
  • If possible, use your credit card at an ATM machine instead of your debit card. Credit cards tend to be more protected

In addition to watching out for those pesky ATM skimmers, the Pennsylvania State Police encourages people to be careful while banking online as well.

“Make sure you change your password. Make sure those passwords are strong passwords, not something that everyone can guess easily like maybe your name,” said Trooper Cindy Schick, Pennsylvania State Police.

Trooper Cindy Schick also recommends logging out of your online banking website every time you use it.

“We suggest you don’t click through the email links,” said Trooper Schick.

Also, be careful when you are shopping online. Make sure you only buy things from trusted online stores that can give you a tracking number.

If you suspect your bank account has been hacked, Trooper Schick says the best thing to do is cancel your card and if necessary to call law enforcement.

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