HOWELL — A skimmer on a Monmouth County bank's ATM may be part of an international scheme to steal debit card numbers for fraudulent use.

Howell Police spokesman Detective Sgt. Christian Antunez said a skimmer found on the ATM outside the Manasquan Bank branch on Route 9 in September was stealing numbers and was responsible at least 100 fraudulent transactions in Monmouth County.

ATM outside the Howell branch of Manasquan Bank (Adam Hochron, Townsquare Media NJ)

The scam, which led to over $30,000 worth of fraudulent withdrawls in Howell alone, was first reported by CBS New York.

"Accounts are being compromised and stolen in other countries and being withdrawn here in the United States. Likewise, cards are being compromised here and the possibility exists they are/will be compromised here and in other countries," Antunez said in an email.

"We believe fraudulent names, addresses and other identifying information is being used. The suspects have successfully compromised account and embedded the information onto blank cards and withdrawn money at will."

Manasquan Bank in a statement said they are "acutely aware" of the report and "proactively and aggressively addressed the issue."

The bank wrote that no customer personal information was compromised and has stepped up measures to prevent future use of skimmers on all their branch ATMs.

"None of our customers experienced a financial loss and in fact only a small number of fraudulent transactions were conducted. In each of those cases the Bank took full responsibility for any monetary loss," the bank said.

The American Bankers Association offers some tips to protect your debit and credit card:

  • Always protect your ATM card and keep it in a safe place, just like you would cash, credit cards or checks.
  • Do not leave your ATM card lying around the house or on your desk at work. No one should have access to the card but you. Immediately notify your bank if it is lost or stolen.
  • Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret. Never write it down anywhere, especially on your ATM card.
  • Never give any information about your ATM card or PIN over the telephone. For example, if you receive a call, supposedly from your bank or possibly the police, wanting to verify your PIN, do not give that information. Notify the police immediately.
  • Be aware of your surroundings while using a machine, particularly at night. If you observe or sense suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine at that time.
  • Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM. Don't wait to get to the ATM and then take your card out of your wallet or purse.
  • Visually inspect the ATM for possible skimming devices. Potential indicators can include sticky residue or evidence of an adhesive used by criminals to affix the device, scratches, damaged or crooked pieces, loose or extra attachments on the card slot, or noticeable resistance when pressing the keypad.
  • Be careful that no one can see you enter your PIN at the ATM. Use your other hand or body to shield the ATM keyboard as you enter your PIN into the ATM.
    To keep your account information confidential, always take your receipts or transaction records with you.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.