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Weslaco Man Loses Money after Thief Uses Debit Card at ATM

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WESLACO – A Rio Grande Valley man said he lost hundreds of dollars at an ATM. The thief was able to pull off the crime by using the man’s PIN code.

Weslaco resident Isaac Cantu was stunned when he saw an unexpected drop in his bank account.

In October, Cantu noticed about $400 was missing from his new business account. He filed a complaint and was able to get his money back from the bank.

But he didn’t keep the money for long.

Cantu said the bank took back the money when they discovered Cantu’s personal PIN was used to make the transaction.

“I started worrying because I said, ‘You know what? It’s starting to look like I might have done it or I might have lend the card to somebody with the PIN number.’  So I started to go and make a report to the San Juan PD,” he said.

Cantu eventually got the money back from the bank. He knew it was a case of theft.

“It is not a practice of mine to give my card to anyone with my PIN number,” he said.

The transaction took place in San Juan at a Walgreen’s. Cantu said he and San Juan authorities saw surveillance video of the transaction and the person they saw was not anyone he knew.

His bank, BBVA Compass, issued a written statement saying that it is important for customers to protect themselves for all types of fraud.

As far as protecting someone’s PIN codes, the bank advises people:

  • Never tell anyone your PIN, access codes or passwords.
  • Do not keep your PIN, access codes or passwords written on, with or near your card.
  • Memorize your PINs, codes and passwords if possible.
  • Never choose a PIN, code or password that is easy for other people to guess, for example your phone number or birthday.

Local law enforcement officials said personal information such as PIN codes can easily be stolen due to advancing technology.

“If it’s on the internet or it’s on a wireless, it can be intercepted. There’s all kinds of scanners that can intercept the transaction. Anything that is made by man can be broken by man,” Weslaco Police spokesperson Bernie Garza said.

Garza recommends people should always be diligent and check their statements regularly.

He also added to use ATMs in well-lit areas and be aware of the surroundings while using the machines.

Cantu said the card used in the theft was immediately destroyed by the bank. He said that he will be very careful when using a credit or debit card at gas stations, restaurants or stores.

The parts used by criminals for skimming at ATM are readily available online. Any would-be criminal has easy access to the devices.

Garza said people should check for skimming devices placed on the slot the cards are placed in. It may look bulkier than usual if a skimming device is attached. 

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