OK, so you found a skimmer on your ATM. Now what?

James Doran of the New York Post had an article about two Chase Bank branches in NYC and a WaMu branch in West Hollywood that recently detected skimmers (see also The Consumerist coverage). Now that in and of itself may not be particularly newsworthy by now, but do read the story of how Chase responded when one customer discovered the skimmer and tried to protect other consumers. It seems that had it not been for the customer’s savvy, even more customers might have had their information stolen:

Once back on his way to the barber, Siebel remembered from a Web site story he read that the skimmer devices come in two parts — a reader, which he found, and a camera, which is often concealed behind a round mirror on the ATM.

“So I ran back to the bank and not only were there two mirrors on the ATM, but people were still using it, the bank had not even shut it down,” an astonished Siebel said.

He said he tore the fake mirror off the ATM and went inside to ask to speak to Pascuas a second time. She again failed to call the cops and said Chase security would deal with it.

“I was stunned,” Siebel said.

The bank defended its handling of the matter, and some pointed out that leaving the skimmer in situ so that the criminals could be caught might be a better approach. Even if banks do not hold customers responsible for fraudulent charges, though, the grief of having to replace cards and deal with messes is not something most people would relish. So what, if anything, should individuals do if they discover a skimmer, other than notifying the bank?

Ben Popken, co-executive editor at online consumer advocate consumerist.com, the Web site that first revealed the WaMu discovery, cautioned anyone finding a skimmer to call 911 and let the cops deal with it.

Call 911? No way. There’s enough abuse of the 911 system, and calls to 911 should be reserved for emergencies such as fires, accidents, and incidents involving risk to life.

So what would you do if you found a skimmer attached to an ATM?

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