A Harrowing Experience – And How You Can Avoid it

Okay, maybe what happened to us wasn’t exactly a harrowing experience in the truest sense of the word, BUT was/is upsetting.

My husband called me last Friday around 5:30-6:00am-ish. “Someone hacked into our bank account and stole $300. I just called the bank and they have frozen our account.” “What??? Is this some kind of joke or something?” I ask. “Nope. Just got off the phone putting in a fraud claim.”

We hang up and I’m reeling with confusion. How could this have happened? 7am he calls me again. “Hurry up and call the bank another $300 withdrawal is showing up. I’m going to switch all our money to the other account.” Log into online banking while calling the bank. Apparently both our debit cards have been compromised and I’m told by the customer service person to go to the bank when it opens.

We know that these withdrawals for two reasons: First, we obviously just know that neither of us took out the money. Second, both withdrawals were done in upstate NY and we were/are both in NJ at the time. {sigh} Together, over the phone, we check our online statement. There are two withdrawals of $60 out of Newark, NJ which gives us pause because Michael works up near there. The problem is not only does he not remember taking any money out from Newark, he doesn’t have a receipt for it. I told him that I will mention it to the person at the bank.

The bank opens and I get there about 9:20am. I need to make a transaction so while do that I mention what happened to the teller. She tells me that I have to talk with the customer rep. There are three people before me waiting to report the same thing, and as I was waiting, within a five-minute period, four more people show up to report fraud. All of them had their debit cards compromised. Wow.

Turns out, someone put in a ‘skimmer’ into the bank’s ATM. This skimmer swiped out the debit card numbers and pins of anyone who used the ATM. 🙁 When we went the next day (Saturday) to file the police report, the police said they had 15 people so far that morning come in to report this, not to mention the many people who filed police reports about this on Friday.

Whoever put that skimmer in, withdrew amounts ranging from $60-$300 at at time using all those cards. He or she or they made out with a LOT of money.

Thankfully, the manager and the people at the fraud department at the bank were extremely helpful. We were able to open a new account right away and they promised to return the money within 10 business days. We’ve all ready received all the money that was taken through my debit card and we are just waiting to be reimbursed for the money lost through Michael’s debit account.

How to prevent this from happening you

The manager took me to the ATM and showed me how to look for a skimmer. In the area where you put in your card, there is a “rubber thing” that pushes in when you slide your card. It should be FLAT. You should be able to put your finger through the rubber. If the rubber is pushed back or doesn’t look “right” there is most likely a skimmer or something in the area.


The orange arrow points to where the card slot is where the “rubber piece” normally is supposed to be flat.

If the rubber piece isn’t flat or you can’t put your finger through the rubber, ask a teller or bank manager to check out the ATM. It’s better to be safe than sorry! I wish I did. A couple of weeks ago, I WAS using the ATM to get cash and the card felt “funny” going it. It was harder than usual, but I didn’t think anything of it. I just took it out and tried again. That was probably the skimmer and I didn’t know it. I’m kicking myself now, though.

It goes to show you that you have to be extra careful these days. A while back I even wrote two blog posts: one on how to protect yourself from identity theft and what to do if your identity was stolen. Even after being watchful it can still happen.

Have you had a similar experience as I? What tip(s) would you give to help others avoid having their information stolen?

(Images in Public domain)

P.S. Those two $60 withdrawals from Newark were fraud. The manager said that the lady she was talking to before me had the same amount of money taken out of the same exact location at almost the same exact time.


  1. Wow. Scary. Thanks for sharing this so we can be more aware!
    Colleen…recently posted…A Matter of the HeartMy Profile

  2. Sorry to hear this. Wouldn’t there be video of the person who introduced the skimmer to the ATM? Banks supposedly record everything.

    So far this hasn’t happened to me but I am concerned because the outer door at my branch’s 24-hr ATM doesn’t lock at night. So anyone can enter even without an access card. It’s been like this for years. I suppose I should say something to the bank manager.

    • SimpleCatholic says

      I thought so too, but after this happened, I looked for the camera and didn’t see one. I guess I should mention this to the bank…

      I’m surprised you ATM doesn’t lock at all at night. You probably should mention it to the bank manager. Hopefully they will change it.

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