Updated 01/01/2013 09:11 AM
Authorities on alert for ATM skimming
Criminals are finding new ways to steal your money, and they're using technology to do it. Authorities are on alert for ATM skimming. It’s not a new concept, but as Iris St. Meran tells us, they're tampering with machines in a way that the average person may not be able to notice.
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NEW YORK -- A quick check of the ATM before you use it could prevent you from being the victim of a skimming scam. Authorities say criminals are getting technical with how they tamper with the machines.
Resident Agent in Charge Timothy Kirk said, "They place a device on the point of sale terminal or the entrance where the debit card enters the machine. That device is actually capturing the debit card's information. The three track data."
That device is made to look like a card reader and a very small camera will be attached inside. All a thief needs is a pin sized hole to see you punch in your password.
"It's very devastating for the banks in particular,” Kirk added. “The customer isn't necessarily responsible for it, but it does cause a huge scare for the customer and potentially leave them without a good deal of money until the bank rectifies it."
Agent Kirk says the individuals involved are usually part of organized groups from foreign countries. Individuals were caught over the summer in a skimming incident in Broome County. It's still under investigation but the undisclosed bank could have lost up to $200,000.
There have been similar incidents in Onondaga County, as well as Rochester and Buffalo. If caught, criminals face a hefty penalty.
"The criminal code for federal regulations would be a maximum of 20 years in prison," said Kirk.
There are things you can do. Agent Kirk says first, use your bank’s ATM if you can. If parts on the machine seem loose, don’t use it and contact police and bank staff. He also says to always cover the key pad when punching in your pin number.
You should also check your bank statements at least once month and if you see something unusual, contact your financial institution as soon as possible.
Many people use their phones for banking; he recommends taking appropriate safe guards when using those devices.
Agent Kirk says it's also important to be careful while using your credit or bank card at the gas pump. Similar skimming incidents have also happened there.