HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Police in Hartsville are investigating a banking card skimmer that was placed on a local ATM machine.
Hartsville Police Lt.Mark Blair said a resident reported the device Sunday afternoon. According to the HPD, the victim discovered a card skimmer placed over the card reader slot on a bank ATM machine at Carolina Bank in the 500 block of South 5th Street.
Lee Freeman noticed the reader and didn't feel right. He said the false cover came off when he pulled on it.
"When I pulled my card out, it kind of caught a little bit. So, I started looking at it close enough and I could tell there was actually another cover underneath it, which was the original one," Freeman said.
Freeman said his card felt tighter around his fingers.
"It actually caught and I had to try one or two times to get my card out."
Freeman pulled on it and the entire cap came off. This skimmer was attached with black double-sided tape. Blair said the people responsible for the skimmers camouflage them to look exactly the same as regular card readers.
"Don't be afraid to call the law and get them to come and check it out," Freeman said.
Blair explained that some skimmers require a person removing them from the ATM in order to retrieve the numbers. Now, there are Bluetooth wireless skimmers where criminals can catch the numbers as they come in live.
"This is something they've assembled form parts they probably got from the internet," said Blair.
This is the first skimmer that has been found in Hartsville, and police did check the other ATMs in the area. No other devices were found. Investigators are currently looking at ATM video to try and identify the person who put the skimmer on the machine.
Police encourage people to always cover the pin pad with their hand and check their account regularly.
"If you see anything wrong or doesn't look right on the card reader, its best to even give it a tug," Blair said.
Police said card skimmers are typically fake covers placed over real card readers to steal banking card numbers at ATM machines, gas pumps and on other devices that may have card readers.
If anything looks out of place or seems loose, people are encouraged to seek out another machine and call either law enforcement or inform the bank.
"What they'll do is use the numbers and re-encode a blank card and use that at ATM machines or businesses and swipe the card and to the cashier, they don't know what card it is, but it comes out of your bank account," Blair said.
For debit cards, the criminals need both the PIN and card numbers.
Residents are encouraged to always cover their PIN pad to lessen the chance someone might capture the PIN with a hidden camera. Also, they are advised to never write down a PIN and memorize it instead. Finally, never let anyone "help you" with a machine that appears to not be working properly.
Hartsville police said to check bank statements regularly. If fraud is reported early, further theft can be stopped and the money can be returned.
Customers are also advised to consider using online banking so their accounts can be checked at any time. However, use a unique password that isn't used anywhere else.