Wiggle debit-card slot to test for skimmers

The recent story about a skimming device on an Ashland ATM caught my eye, particularly a part about how to test for the devices so you don't get ripped off. It says to wiggle the card reader slot to see if it's loose. If your card's already in, what would that matter?

— No name

We definitely need to clarify something, Reader With No Name: You should wiggle the slot before you put your card in.

Skimming devices are used to steal personal information such as debit-card and PIN numbers. A recent CNBC story pointed out that the technology is becoming more advanced, resulting in $2 billion in fraudulent charges annually.

"They have very sophisticated devices," said Kelsey Esqueda, Rogue Credit Union marketing manager. "I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s easy for them to attach, but they’re very good at doing it."

So before you use the ATM, yes, give the card slot a firm shake. The card slot sticks out slightly, so you should be able to grab it and give it a wiggle.

"You won't break the machine," Esqueda said. "If that area seems loose at all, don't use it."

And even if it doesn't jiggle, another telltale sign to look for is if your card seems to go back unusually far. In either case, you should quickly tell the staff of whatever financial institution you're utilizing.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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