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'Skimmers' capable of reading debit cards, recording PINs found at two I-5 truck stops

Electronic devices capable of reading the magnetic strips on debit cards cards while recording video of victims entering PIN codes on the keypad were found this week at two truck stops along Interstate 5 in the Willamette Valley, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said. (MCSO)

SALEM, Ore. - Electronic devices capable of reading the magnetic strips on debit cards cards while recording video of victims entering PIN codes on the keypad were found this week at two truck stops along Interstate 5 in the Willamette Valley, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

The "skimming machines" were found December 17 at the Flying J near Aurora and December 18 at the Pilot truck stop in Brooks, the sheriff's office said.

"Deputies believe the skimming machines are related and may have been affixed to the ATM's by the same suspect," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "ATM skimming machines are sophisticated electronics designed to read the magnetic strips on the back of ATM cards and in this case also video record the key pad as the unknowing victim enters their pin."

The sheriff released photos of a man possibly connected to the device, as well as images of the device itself. Anyone with information about the identity of the man or the origin of the device is asked to call (503) 540-8079 or submit an anonymous tip on the sheriff's Facbook page.

The sheriff's office also shared 6 tips from AARP on how to protect yourself from skimming:

  • Go to the bank. Although not immune to skimming, ATMs at banks are typically more secure--with their own 24/7 camera surveillance--and better maintained. Machines at convenience stores and other non-bank locations account for the majority of ATM compromises.
  • Inspect before using. Beware of ATMs whose card slots are a different color than the rest of the machine; have unusual equipment on the slot, keypad or sides, or overhead (which could hide a camera); or don't accept your card smoothly. If the slot is not securely attached, walk away. Newer ATMs have a flashing or steady light at the card slot. If it's obscured, suspect tampering.
  • Hide it. When entering a PIN, cover your hand as you press the numbers to protect personal information.
  • Keep close tabs on all payment cards. As with credit cards, most banks offer real-time alerts via text message or email on debit card transactions.
  • Create a separate account. Open a smaller account, separate from your primary checking account, and use it exclusively for debit card transactions. If the account is skimmed, the lower balance would limit your losses.
  • Lower your daily limit. Banks generally set a daily limit for ATM withdrawals, but you can request to have the amount of the limit reduced--say, $100 or less per day--to prevent scammers from making successive withdrawals within minutes.
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