During Identity Theft Awareness Week, the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection today warned New Yorkers of credit and debit card skimming scams where thieves place “skimming” devices at ATMs, gas station pumps and other unattended payment terminals to steal card information. Scammers place these hidden devices over or inside card reading machines at legitimate retailers to directly copy card and PIN information, and then use the stolen data to withdraw funds, make illicit purchases or commit other forms of fraud. According to the FBI, it is estimated that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year.
“Countless New Yorkers use credit cards and debit cards for everyday purchases, and they should not have to worry about unscrupulous individuals stealing their information or their hard-earned money,” said New York Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection. “I urge all New Yorkers to stay informed and pay close attention for signs of tampering when using an ATM, gas station pump or other card reading machine to help protect themselves against these scams.”
“According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year,” said Acting New York State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli. “While our highly trained investigators and specialized units deploy sophisticated techniques to catch these criminals and stop them from defrauding New Yorkers, it’s important for consumers to be aware of their surroundings and the steps they can take to protect themselves. I urge all New Yorkers to be vigilant in taking precautions to safeguard their identities.”
TIPS ON HOW TO HELP SPOT A POTENTIAL SKIMMING SCAM:
- Inspect the card reading machine for an overlay device. Check for unusual set-ups including abnormal bulkiness, any residues, different color, material or shape. Check to see if it’s loose around the card reader. If it moves, consider using another machine.
- Check the keypad. Thieves may place a phony keypad overlay to store keystrokes. If the buttons look or feel different, don’t use it.
- Choose your ATM location wisely. Machines located inside banks or indoor locations are much more secure than an ATM located on the street where anyone can access it.
- Look for any hidden cameras. Thieves often place cameras near the vicinity in order to record PIN numbers. The camera may be mounted at the top or in the ceiling of a terminal. Protect yourself by shielding the PIN pad when entering a PIN number. Use your hand and/or body to cover your PIN when you type it in.
- Review your bank and credit card statements regularly. Victims are often unaware of fraudulent charges or activities until the next attempted purchase or account review. It’s important to frequently monitor your accounts for unauthorized charges.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides resources and education materials to consumers on identity theft prevention and mitigation, as well as voluntary mediation services between consumers and businesses. The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.
For more consumer protection tips, follow the Division on social media at Twitter: @NYSConsumer and Facebook: www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.