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Sheriff Reports Skimming Thefts

Written By Editor on 5/2/23 | 5/2/23

Delhi, NY –Sheriff Craig DuMond advises that recently, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports of residents having found unauthorized charges on their personal debit and credit cards. Some of the charges were in small amounts ($1) whereas others amounted to $300 or more. 


Following an investigation into the complaints, it was discovered that an illegal and fraudulent type of activity referred to as “skimming” had occurred. The victims all report that they had utilized their debit and/or credit cards for gas purchases at an outside gas pump. Unbeknownst to the victims, it appears that the gas pumps had illegal devices referred to as “skimmers” installed upon them. These skimmers steal/harvest the personal information of the debit/credit account and ultimately, were used to re-produce “new” cards which are then used in the illegal and unauthorized transactions. None of the victims reported losing their cards, hence, they were simply “cloned”. 


We offer the following tips and suggestions to help prevent you from falling victim to a “skimmer”.  


SKIMMING: 


Skimming occurs when criminals install illegal devices called “skimmers” on ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, transit ticket dispensers and/or gas-fuel pumps to capture data or record cardholders’ PINs from the magnetic strip.  Criminals then use the data to create fake debit or credit cards and then steal from victims’ accounts. It is estimated that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year.

Once thieves steal your card’s data, they either sell the stolen data to other criminals or use your credit card number to make fraudulent purchases. If you don’t check your bank or credit card account regularly, you probably won’t even know your card number has been stolen or used for fraudulent transactions.


As thieves become more savvy, it’s important for you to keep your eyes open when using your credit or debit card. Card skimming devices can be difficult to spot. They are typically installed on the outside of machines and look as if they belong there. High-quality devices are attached over the card slot and others are placed inside the card slot. The reader can record your card information.

Sometime, a tiny camera might be installed nearby to record your PIN as you enter it or an artificial keypad could be placed over the existing one to record your keystrokes.


Here’s what you need to know about skimming in order to protect yourself.


Tips to Avoid Being Skimmed-


Follow these guidelines every time you use your card.


  1. Do a quick scan. Before using any machine, take a look to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. If the card reader seems loose, crooked, or damaged, if the graphics aren’t aligned, or if part of the machine is a different color, don’t insert or swipe your card. If there is another machine nearby (such as two ATM machines next to each other) compare them to see if there are obvious differences. For example, if one machine has a flashing slot to insert your card and the other doesn’t, that may be an indication that there is something wrong. 


  1. Be wary of non-bank ATMs. FICO reports that 60% of skimming occurs at privately-owned ATMs. These are typically cash-dispensing machines and tend to be located in convenience stores, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, or check cashing establishments.


  1. Check the keypad. If the numbers are hard to press or feel thick, it might have a false keypad installed and you should move on to the next machine.


  1. Block your PIN. When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand in case a camera is recording your number.


  1. Use mobile wallet. An alternative to swiping your card is paying by “mobile wallet” including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay. This form of payment is secure because your credit card information is tokenized and rendered useless if a thief where to get a hold of it.


  1. Pay inside. If your local gas station hasn't yet updated their pumps to accept mobile wallet or you aren't sure if the machine is safe to use, go inside the service station to pay. Taking an extra minute to walk inside could save you a whole load of problems later on.


  1. Stay in public view. Always try to use machines that are in public view with security monitoring these machines are less likely to be tampered with.  For additional protection, use a machine inside the store or an ATM inside your bank.


  1. Check your account regularly. Technology is advancing and so are skimming devices so the best thing you can do is to monitor your account.  Rather than wait for your monthly statement, check your account regularly using online and mobile banking. This way, if anything were to happen, you can catch it immediately and report it to the bank or local credit union where your accounts are.


  1. Sign up for alerts. See what type of fraud alert system your card provider has in place and take advantage of it. While fraud is not 100% preventable, catching issues immediately will save you a lot of headaches. Check with your financial institution to see if text alerts on your credit and debit cards are available. If so, when a suspicious transaction occurs, they may be able to send a text to your mobile phone asking you to verify if you initiated the transaction.


  1. Above all, trust your instincts. If you suspect foul play, or if you’re in doubt about the authenticity of a machine, use a different machine or payment method.


If You Suspect a Skimming Device:


Report it to the manager of the location immediately!!!


If You Suspect Your Card Has Been Compromised


Contact your financial institution immediately so they can monitor your account or cancel and re-issue your card. In addition, we recommend you sign up for fraud text alerts to help monitor your accounts. 





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