LANSING – State Representative John Kivela (D-Marquette) introduced House Bill 5054 this week making it a felony to own a skimming device, which is used to steal information from the magnetic strip on ATM or credit cards. HB 5054 is part of a bi-partisan 5-bill package, HB 5050-5054, aimed at preventing “card skimming.”

“Many of us use our credit or debit cards to pay for our purchases instead of cash because these cards are just more convenient but, unfortunately, thieves are able to still pick your pocket with devices that give them access to the information on the card’s magnetic strip,” said Kivela. “My bill, and its companion bills, fight card skimming so that we can simplify our lives and use the latest financial technology safely.”

A skimming device is any combination of devices or methods used to access the personal information stored on the magnetic strip on the back of credit/ATM cards without the card owner’s permission. Once someone has this information, they can access the other person’s financial accounts and steal a person’s identity, money and/or use the card for purchases. The bills create penalties ranging from 5 to 15 years in prison, with fines of $25,000 to $75,000.

“Everybody likes their financial transactions to be quick and convenient, but thieves are street-smart, and we can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting our identity and financial information,” said Kivela. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass these bills and see them signed into law so that Michiganders will have extra protection from this crime that is growing more prevalent throughout our communities.”