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A recent hack at a South Shore credit union, for which skimmers are believed to be the culprit, left many consumers wondering how they can protect their money and identity from electronic theft.

Skimming is the theft of credit and debit card information used in an otherwise legal transaction, like at a gas station or an ATM. A skimmer is placed over the machine’s card reader and records your financial information.

Skimmers are not easily detectable. But there are ways to be more alert the next time you visit the ATM:

  1. Avoid using ATMs in remote locations. Thieves are trying to avoid getting caught. Stand -alone machines in darker locations can be an ideal target if a thief thinks no one is checking it.
  2. Try to avoid using ATMs outside of normal banking hours. It’s difficult to report suspicious ATM activity if the bank is closed.
  3. It’s best to get cash directly from a teller. But if it is after-hours or not a full-service bank, always block the keypad when entering your pin. Skimmers often are paired with tiny cameras that record PIN entries as they are entered.
  4. Examine the ATM. Does anything look out of place or askew? Is the material or the keypad color different? If you pull on it, does it feel loose? ATMs are built to be sturdy. If a part is wiggling, or something looks suspicious or like it doesn’t belong, don’t use that ATM and notify your bank immediately.
  5. Monitor your bank accounts and check your credit card statements. If you spot fraudulent charges, report them to your bank or credit card issuers immediately.


If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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