DANBURY, Conn. — Over the past several months, the Danbury Police Department has noticed an increase in the reported use of ATM-skimming devices in the greater Danbury area.
Criminals frequently target the weekends when such machines are left unattended for longer periods of time. The Danbury Police Department wants to heighten community awareness about this nationwide problem and provide tips to avoid becoming a victim.
The devices planted on ATMs are usually undetectable by users — the makers of this equipment have become very adept at creating them, often from plastic or plaster, so that they blend right into the ATM’s facade.
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 info is swiped and stored on a small attached laptop or cell phone or sent wireless to the criminals waiting nearby.
In addition, skimming typically involves the use of a hidden camera, installed on or near an ATM, to record customers’ entry of their PINs into the ATM’s keypad.
There has also been instances where, instead of a hidden camera, criminals attach a phony keypad on top of the real keypad which records every keystroke as customers punch in their PINs.
Here are tips on how to avoid being skimmed:
- Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it…be suspicious if there is anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if there are scratches or adhesive/tape residue.
- When entering a PIN, block the keypad with another 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).
- If the card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.
For those who see anything suspicious, notify the business and local law enforcement immediately. If it is after hours, notify the Danbury Police Department (203)-797-4611.
The Danbury Police Department is working closely with Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, its law enforcement partners, and the financial industry, to prevent, educate and investigate ATM and point-of-sale fraud.