July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

In an ATM skimming operation, criminals place a fake electronic device on an ATM and steal card information and PIN numbers from the bank card’s magnetic strip. Then they create their own bank cards and steal from customer accounts.

The devices planted on ATMs are usually undetectable by users. The equipment blends right into the ATM’s façade. The specific device used is often a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory installed card reader. Customers insert their ATM card into the phony reader, and their account information is swiped and stored on a small attached laptop or cell phone or sent wirelessly to the criminals waiting nearby.

Another way criminals get PIN numbers is by mounting a hidden camera above the keypad in order to watch customers enter PINs. Also used in ATM skimming is a keypad overlay. Criminals attach a phony keypad on top of the real keypad thereby allowing the circuitry inside the phony keypad to record every keystroke.

Skimming devices are typically installed for short periods of time, usually just a few hours, so they are often attached to an ATM by easily removable methods such as double-sided tape. They are then removed by the criminals, who download the stolen account information and encode it onto blank cards. The cards are used to make withdrawals from victims’ accounts at other ATMs.

ATMs are not the only target of skimmers. Gas pumps and, essentially, any other point-of-sale locations where customers swipe their cards and enter their PIN are potential targets.

Below are some tips (from the FBI’s website) on how to avoid being skimmed.

Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.

When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.

If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers).

Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas…they are a popular target of skimmers.

If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.

NetworkMasters, LLC provides IT support services to businesses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  We specialize in small and midsize companies. Our IT services include network installation, new office setup and relocation, data backup and recovery, network support, remote access, hardware and software upgrades, spam/virus protection, server and network monitoring, telephony and cabling. We also offer customized managed services solutions. You can reach us at 201.353.7998 or email me directly at haroldn_networkmasters.biz

By Harold Nussbaum

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