Protecting your bank account from thieves

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (Sept. 2, 2015) -- Imagine for a moment what it would be like to realize your entire bank account is cleared out thanks to thieves. Police in West Allis are looking for two people who placed a device on some bank ATMs with the goal of stealing your hard earned cash. They're using what's called a \"skimmer\" that is placed on the card slot of an ATM or, even, a gas pump. As soon as you swipe your card, the thieves have your information and can buy whatever they want on your dime. 

\"I mean, if something like that were to happen, you're still out that money and it could still be a major inconvenience at that point in time, ya know,\" said Matt Birk of West Allis.

That inconvenience is what Birk, and his family, have no interest in dealing with. It is also one of the main reasons why he does the safe thing by constantly checking their accounts online for anything suspicious.

\"That doesn't look right, anything that we can't place where it's coming from,\" Birk added.

Surveillance cameras from one of the West Allis ATMs shows who, police say, may be responsible.

\"It is very scary and it is becoming more and more common,\" says Lisa Schiller with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau.

Schiller wants you to know how you can inspect an ATM before you use it in case there's a skimmer on it. She suggests looking to see if graphics or words on the machine don't match up.

\"They're very solidly constructed, sturdy machines, so if you hear any jiggling inside the machine and something sounds loose or feels loose to you, that should be a red flag that that's a possibility,\" Schiller added.

Other ways of protecting yourself include protecting your PIN. When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand. If the keypad appears loose, it could be a sign of a keypad recorder. Also, change your PIN occasionally. Choose ATMs wisely. Avoid using machines in poorly lit areas or standalone ATMs that aren't monitored by surveillance cameras.

You can also do what Matt Birk does, and just keep an eagle eye on your bank and credit card accounts.

\"It's easier to check it at the time then to try to haggle over it later on down the line,\" Birk said.

West Allis police say they are working with area police departments in this investigation and say the Feds may join in. The Better Business Bureau urges you to call your bank and police if you think you've become a victim.

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