Hello Everyone,

About 10 days or so ago, I had a bit of an emergency in which I needed some cash.  As it turned out, I was not near any of my local bank branches.  Since time was absolutely of the essence, I decided to withdraw some money from the nearest 7-Eleven convenient store ATM.  

As an aside, I had not used my debit card, in a foreign ATM, in over eight years.  This, in no way, was intentional; just a curious happenstance.

Regardless, on this particular day, I withdrew the money necessary to address the emergency, at hand, incurring a sir charge of $2.95.

Two days later at approximately 7:30pm, I received a notification, via my iOS banking app, that a ATM debit card withdrawal of $402.95 had just occurred.

Upon receiving this notification, I, via my banking app, immediately cancelled my debit card and ordered a new card complete with a new PIN.

Given that (1) I had never had an unauthorized debit card transaction occur in the past, (2) I had recently, for the first time in 8 years, used a foreign ATM, and (3) the amount included a sir charge of $2.95, it did not take long to determine from where the thieves acquired my debit card information.

Upon subsequent investigation by officials, it was discovered that this particular ATM had, in fact, been compromised.  Just so you know, the stolen money was credited back to my account.

It should be noted, however, that the ATM from which the theft occurred was not the same ATM from which my information was obtained.

My point, however, is that but for the fact that I was immediately notified that a transaction had taken place, the thieves most likely would have absconded with even more money from my account and, ultimately, the bank.

So, I fervently urge all of you to enable either app push notifications and/or SMS transaction alerts for all of your financial accounts.

In closing, here are some interesting facts I learned from those who investigated my case:

First, over 90% of debit card cash withdraw thefts, in the United States, take place at ATMs located in either convenient stores or gas stations, primarily because they are privately owned and not subjected to the same daily physical security scrutiny as those located in actual financial institutions.

Second, when one has to use a foreign ATM, it is much safer to use an ATM located in an actual bank / credit union branch.  This is to say, if you are a Chase customer, for example, and you need cash, it would be much safer to use a Bank of America ATM than any stand-alone private ATM.

Third, if one must absolutely use a private, stand-alone ATM, one should immediately change the PIN associated with that debit card upon completion of the transaction.

I hope you find this information useful and that you never experience any unauthorized charges on any of your accounts.

Sincerely,

Mark

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