Thu. Aug 5th, 2021

“ATM Skimmers Hit Iloilo City BDO Branch” is today’s cautionary tale. I like to believe I exercise a fair bit of caution whenever withdrawing money from any local ATMs. My asawa always stands to my side and I make sure no one is standing directly behind me while I’m conducting my transaction.

The Ugly American

I’ve been known to ask people to step back if I feel they’re too close. If memory serves me correctly, I’ve only had to do that about three times in the past eight years. And occasionally the “Ugly American” in me rears its ugly head; my requests might not have always been the most polite. No need to remind me that I can be a butt hole at times, Jesus has been doing that for me lately.

But the crusty old expat doesn’t always follow the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) dictum and occasionally wanders off the straight ant narrow path and gets grumpy.

“Mr. Grumpy” makes a Guest Star Appearance in Iloilo

“Mr. Grumpy,” a character known all to well to my patient, loving spouse, was in full force during a visit to Iloilo City yesterday. We had to retrieve some cash from a BDO, Banco de Oro, ATM (there are no BDO ATMs in Guimaras, the island province we call home.)

While I didn’t have to ask anyone to step back (I actually let someone in front of me that only had one transaction, I had five) but was a bit put off when one of the two ATMs was “unavailable.’’

But I waited in line with my asawa and didn’t grumble too much; armored car guards with assault rifles were pacing back and forth in front of me making a delivery to the bank.

After waiting about 15 minutes, we were able to withdraw our cash. Any remnant of “Mr. Grumpy” quickly disappears when any form of cash appears.

ATM Skimmers Hit Iloilo City BDO Branch

However, as I read the local online news the n

ext day, I discovered the reason the one BDO ATM was not “available” the previous day.

An electronic skimming device was recovered from an automated teller machine (ATM) on General Luna Street in Iloilo the night before we made our withdrawal at the same BDO location!

Electronic skimming devices steal data such as personal identification numbers that may be used for unauthorized ATM withdrawals.

A bank officer discovered the skimming device around 8 p.m. Tuesday evening.

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New Safety Precautions for the American Expat in the Philippines

For obvious reasons, we will no longer be using the ATMs at that local BDO branch. While authorities recommend checking for any possible skimming devices before making a transaction, we will probably use an ATM located right inside the bank, as recommended by authorities.

Bank officials had also previously advised the public to use ATMs situated in well-lighted areas with security guards on duty. The particular BDO ATM that was hit with the skimming device was in a well-lit area and posted security guards outside near the ATMs. I can only assume the skimming device was installed when the guards were off duty or possibly asleep.

We are also obtaining new updated ATM cards from BDO which have more updated security features.

No matter where you live in the Philippines, ATM skimming is something every ATM user needs to be aware of.

Some banking customers in Iloilo had money stolen from their accounts by skimming devices as recently as March before this latest incident. I had already become complacent and wasn’t checking for any possible skimming devices on the ATMs we were using. Hopefully, this is one wake-up call I’ll be paying a lot closer attention to in the future.

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