Can you trust the ATM? Skimming attempts spike in NJ, US
ATM crime attempts nationwide have skyrocketed from 2014 to 2015, according to the latest numbers, and New Jersey is no stranger to the problem.
According to FICO Card Alert Services, which monitors hundreds of thousands of ATMs in the country, the number of machines compromised by criminals jumped 546 percent in 2015 compared to the year prior.
Criminal activity was highest at non-bank ATMs, such as those in convenience stores and on the street, according to the data.
Crooks need two pieces of information in order to successfully steal your card data and treat your money as their own. Skimmers, attached to the ATM's card slot, are equipped with technology to grab your card number. Elsewhere, an inconspicuous camera is set up to steal your PIN as you enter it on the keypad.
"Once they have those two things, they're good to go and they can easily drain your funds," said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
Della Fave said ATM skimming has become more of an issue over the past 18 months in the areas of Brick and Toms River.
To save yourself some headaches and financial trouble, Della Fave said, lightly tug at the machine's card slot to determine whether a skimming device has been attached.
"Skimming devices are many times attached with double-sided tape for quick removal by the crooks," he said. "The real, true slots are securely fastened to the machine."
And, even if you're alone, cover the keypad when entering your PIN. Even if you fail to detect a skimmer that's in place, the bad guys still can't do much without your four-digit code.
According to John McWeeney, president of the New Jersey Bankers Association, the state has seen a spike in ATM crime over the past six to nine months.
"Banks are trying to do all the basic physical security measures that should be taken - surveillance cameras, increased lighting," McWeeney said.
On top of that, McWeeney said, bank ATMs are constantly inspected for fraudulent activity by bank personnel and third parties.
The FICO report noted the average duration of an ATM compromise fell from 36 days in 2014 to 14 days in 2015, so the number of cards affected by a compromise was cut in half.
"Criminals are taking a quick-hit approach to ATM theft and card fraud," TJ Horan, vice president of fraud solutions at FICO, said in a press release. "They are moving faster to make it harder for banks to react and shut down the compromises."