ATMs are an everyday convenience for most of us, but the money machines also can be a trap set up by criminals.
"I was really surprised, really shocked. My first reaction was what happened here?" said Nicosia.
Rockford resident Ami Nicosia believes she was the victim of an ATM scam. Some fraud investigators believe Nicosia used an ATM set up by criminals. Using a scanner inserted into the machine the thieves could have made a scan of her ATM card and recorded her PIN number. It's possible another card was made and a thief in Romania took $900 from Nicosia's account.
"There were three transactions that were held in Bucharest, Romania on an ATM machine. I was totally shocked," said Nicosia.
Experts say the best way to protect your money is to know who you're doing business with. Anyone can set up an ATM machine, so you should use ATMs operated by well-known reputable financial institutions.
"You may have just frankly gotten out of prison for theft and they'll sell you a machine. You can set it up any place you'd like, attach a scanner, get the information and you're off and running," said Dennis Horton of the Rockford Regional Better Business Bureau.
Nicosia says she won't stop using ATM machines but she is making some changes to protect her money.
"I'll get better tabs on my account," said Nicosia.
Officials with Nicosia's bank say the matter is under investigation and they're not convinced someone accessed her information through an ATM. While it is a threat, they don't believe it's a widespread problem in Rockford at this time.
ATM Safety Tips
- Memorize your PIN number. Never write your PIN number on your card or keep a written record of your PIN number in the same location as your ATM card.
- Never share your PIN number or give it out over the phone.
- Report a lost or stolen ATM card to your credit union immediately.
- Be aware of your surroundings, if you notice something suspicious, use another location and report unusual occurrences as soon as possible.
- Put your money away and count and verify it later.
- Keep your receipts for verifying your transaction information.
- Stand close to the ATM when entering your PIN. Don't allow others to watch.
- At a drive-up ATM, pull up close to the terminal and keep your car running while performing your transaction. Also, make sure your car doors are locked and windows are rolled up before and after your transaction.
- Always protect your ATM card and keep it in a safe place, just like you would cash, credit cards or checks.
- At night, only use ATM machines that are in a well lit area, and if at all possible, take someone with you.
- Report all crimes to law enforcement officials immediately.
Source: www.cuna.org (Credit Union National Association Web site) contributed to this report.