Use Private ATMs At Your Own Risk
Card Information Stored In ATM Until Downloaded
Tracy Davidson, NBC 10 Consumer Reporter
When you use your bank card at an automatic teller machine, you could be dealing with a high security bank or you could be entrusting your account information to a thief.
Stefanie Trumpler purchased $10 worth of gas from a gas station. But when she received her bank statement, she had been charged more than $500.
"She gave me the receipt for $10 and I signed off on it. But when I got my bank statement, there were deductions of a $100, $100, $100 ... this went on for three days," said Stefanie Trumpler. "I could not believe they actually did this with my card, and I couldn't figure out how they did it."
It is not such a mystery to New York District Attorney Richard Brown. He says his office sees a growing amount of similar cases, all involving private ATM machines, the ones without a bank affiliation.
"These private ATMs are popping up all over the place. They're in convenience stores and shopping malls, Laundromats and beauty parlors," Brown said.
According to Brown, the machines' owners have more authority than you may think.
"When you go to a drive-in gas pump and you swipe your card through, the information is captured. It doesn't go to the credit card company. It stays in the machine," Brown said.
At the end of the day, the merchant transfers the data. That's when an unscrupulous employee could get access to your account information. When Stephanie brought her complaint to the owner of the gas station, the problem was traced to a recently vanished employee.
The station owner found the cards that were compromised, contacted the customers and credited more than a $1,000 to their accounts.
It was an expensive lesson for an employer and an important warning for consumers.
"I'd walk the extra couple of blocks to go to a bank where I'm reasonably sure and secure that my card is not going to be compromised," Brown recommended.
The Consumer Alert bottom line is that you should use caution when using a private ATM, or don't use it at all. Also, you should always check your bank and credit card statements carefully.