It’s like getting mugged by an invisible thug. You can be out thousands of dollars, your account drained, and not even know it.

And it’s a crime that is exploding across New Jersey.

You visit an ATM and insert your card. The machine asks you all the standard prompts. Everything is perfectly normal. You withdraw your money or deposit your check and go on your way.

What you didn’t realize was someone attached a skimmer over the real parts of the ATM. So in a sense when you insert your card, you’re doing it twice. The machine reads it but so does a data recording device known as a skimmer.


It will record potentially thousands of different customers' transactions thus storing their account numbers, balances, PINs, everything. Then the criminal returns at some point disconnects the skimmer as quickly as he installed it, and downloads or wirelessly transmits what amounts to the skeleton key to accessing all your money.

It just happened Wednesday at the Wawa in Galloway Township on White Horse Pike. Two ATMs were found with skimming devices attached and these can be so sneaky and lay overtop the real machine parts so perfectly that in this case it took an ATM mechanic to notice them.

Around the holidays another Wawa was hit in Cinnaminson. It’s not just retailers' ATMs. Even bank-location ATMs have been hit. It happened at a bank in January. The Capitol One on Franklin Avenue in Nutley was discovered with a skimmer.

Hand of man with credit card, using a ATM

New Jersey is among the top states where this crime occurs most. How explosively is it growing? In 2021 in the United States, there were about 32,000 skimming incidents. By 2022 it was up to 161,000. A fivefold increase in just one year.

How to protect yourself? Check your transactions daily. Sign up for notifications when your account is accessed.

Couple having problem with bills and money.

Also, look carefully at the machine. Look for tape or sticky glue on the ATM before using it. Look to see if the card insert area seems unnaturally thicker than usual. A wire or cord hanging from the ATM could be a telltale sign.

Run your fingertips over the card insert area and the keys before starting. Does anything feel slightly loose or like it might be an overlay? And report any suspicion immediately.

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