Officials: ATM skimmer crimes on the rise

Posted: Updated:

Law enforcement officials say that incidents of ATM skimmer crimes are on the rise across the country.

Incidents of ATMs being tampered with rose 546 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to one data company.

Ridgewood police say that an ATM at the Valley National Bank on Franklin Avenue was the latest bank to suffer such an incident. They say that someone altered the internal components of the machine in order to steal.

"No matter who we're talking to in financial services, in banking, it always comes down to skimming,” says Critical Defence cybersecurity expert Jeff Bernstein.

“Skimming” is when criminals install devices into ATMs to get information from card strips. Banks introduced chips on cards in order to combat this. But now the thieves have started to target the chips, according to officials.

"It's paper thin, so these are microdevices and very difficult to detect if it's in a card reader,” Bernstein says. “Some card readers, by the way, can be built into the card slot. They can also be built into the keypad."

Bernstein says that the latest devices even utilize Bluetooth technology.

“The criminal doesn’t even have to go back to retain the stolen data,” he says. “They can do it electronically.”

Bernstein says to use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay when possible in order to protect oneself. He also suggests retrieving cash from a bank teller. Customers can also get a smartphone app that will detect Bluetooth inside an ATM.

Bernstein is reminding people to practice common sense.

“Obviously cover the keypad when you’re entering your information,” he says. “Look at your bank statements, enable thresholds where you’re getting alerts for card usage.”

Smaller merchants report up to $10,000 a week just on fraud and larger ones report more than $1 million a week, according to Bernstein.

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