City Council candidate Chaim Deutsch is tired of people dealing with the nightmare of identity theft, and is hoping that tougher penalties will deter future ripoff artists from pulling scams. In a press release, Deutsch also wants to root out bank card skimmers who use sophisticated tricks to steal people’s PIN numbers at ATM machines.
Deutsch pointed to the fact that no matter how alert you are, anyone can fall victim to a scammer, citing his own experience.
“With 22 years of involvement in law enforcement issues, I thought that I was well aware of bank card skimming tricks. I never thought that I would fall prey to one of these scams. But it recently happened to me and unfortunately, it’s a real threat and an everyday occurrence. Don’t think that you are immune to scams, no matter how savvy and alert you may be,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch’s release explained how people fall victim to bank card scams, which are increasing in sophistication:
The scam involves a device that is placed over or in an ATM’s card slot. The device reads your card number and sends the information to the thief. Deutsch explained that the methods that bank card skimmers use to steal your credit or ATM bank card information are becoming more sophisticated.
“People may not notice when a skimming device is placed over the card reader slot at an ATM machine. The device may be so tiny that it can be placed inside of the slot where it cannot be seen or over the existing card slot. Sometimes a tiny camera is also placed in a pamphlet holder near the ATM machine. The camera or skimmer then records your PIN number as you type it in,” said Deutsch.
The card holder has no idea that he or she has been victimized until a check bounces or they see unauthorized activity on their bank or credit card statement.
According to recent statistics, almost 80% of Americans have an ATM card and 60% of those people use it at least eight times a month. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that nine million Americans a year are the victims of identity theft. Many of these cases involve bank or credit card skimming.
Deutsch was impassioned when describing the frustration fraud victims experience and the disruption that the crime wrecks on their lives.
“A victim of identity theft has to spend a great deal of time and effort to get their lives back on track. ATM and credit cards need to be replaced. Numerous phone calls have to be made. You can’t make purchases or pay bills, because money is missing from your account and it may take several days for the bank to investigate the matter and issue a new card,” said Deutsch. “I am calling on our federal legislators to enact stricter penalties for those who are convicted of bank or credit card skimming and identity theft so that we may send a strong message to these scam artists that there are serious consequences for these crimes.”
Speaking from personal experience, I can attest to the fact that identity theft is a terrible ordeal to go through. My bank called me at work to inform me that someone was buying expensive jewelry in Baltimore using my ATM card information. My card was immediately canceled. Luckily, I just had enough cash in my wallet an on my MetroCard to make it home. Because it was a Friday, I had to wait until Monday to get it all straightened out, having to borrow money from friends to buy food for the weekend. Once I dealt with the bank, and extracted enough spending money, it took a week and a half before I received my new ATM card. While my experience wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it was an experience I don’t care to go through again in the future. Anyone else have identity theft nightmare stories?