Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

New Wave Of ATM Related Thefts Reported On South Coast

Santa Barbara Police
A skimmer device recovered from a Santa Barbara bank's ATM machine

Thieves are using skimmers installed on ATM's to steal account information.

There's a new warning about a wave of ATM-related thefts on the South Coast.

Santa Barbara Police say more than a dozen Bank Of America customers have reported having their accounts compromised in the last month after using ATM's. Detectives say they've recovered more than a half dozen skimmer systems installed on machines to secretly record customers personal information.

The scheme is focused on debit cards issued by the state Employment Development Department (EDD) to people receiving unemployment assistance. The cards usually don't have chips, which makes them more vulnerable to thieves.

The skimmers steal account information from the magnetic strips on the card. Then, a secretly mounted camera records the victim putting in their pin number. The thieves then clone the debit card, and empty the account. More than $50,000 in losses have been confirmed so far, but the total is expected to be much higher.

Investigators say they are receiving reports of similar thefts throughout the region. They say if you have any kind of a debit card without a chip, the safest thing to do is to use it inside the bank with a teller.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.