Friday, April 17, 2009

Warn members about skimmers, 'Grandma, it's me' scams

MADISON, Wis. (4/17/09)--Credit unions may want to warn their members about two types of scams circulating recently: ATM skimmers and scammers preying on older consumers by posing as a grandchild in trouble.

ATM skimmers, which are attached to ATMs or terminals to read unsuspecting consumers' card data as they use the machines, have seen attention the past two weeks.

Skimmers at three JPMorgan Chase & Co. ATMs--two Chase-branded ones in New York and a Washington Mutual-banded one in West Hollywood, Calif.--were discovered and reported by consumers using the machines (American Banker April 15).

The Chase-branded skimmers mimicked the translucent green material used to make the card slot in the NCR Corp. machines. The one in the WaMu machine was made from opaque gray plastic.

Since the cardholder's data personal identification number (PIN) isn't stored in the card's magnetic stripe, the skimmer must be paired with a camera on or near the ATM to record the numbers the consumer types on the keypad. One consumer, who didn't spot the skimmer until his card snagged on it, found a camera behind a mirror stuck on the ATM (Bank Technology News April 13).

The latest scam circulating in Ohio is the "Grandma, it's me" scam, says the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination Newsletter April 15.

Scammers call unsuspecting seniors and in a highly excited or anxious voice say, "Hi Grandma/Grandpa, it's me." The senior will reply with the name of their grandchild (for example, "Oh, Johnny, what's wrong?") The scammers pick up on whatever name the victim uses and pretend to be a grandson. The "grandson" claims to be in trouble and needs money wired immediately to bail him out of jail or for a hospital bill.

"This is a financially and emotionally devastating scam and has occurred throughout Ohio," said the league. "Routinely educate your staff and members about circulating scams to avoid others falling victim."

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