At the March 7 meeting of the 111th Precinct Community Council, Police Officers Luigi Galano and Rosa of the precinct’s Community Affairs unit explained that there are three main ways perpetrators try to pull victims’ personal information.
The first is by installing a hidden camera on the ATM — usually concealed somewhere on the front of the machine or somewhere nearby, like a light fixture — to pull the victims PIN. The second is by using skimmers — devices which fit over the ATM card reader and steal personal information electronically. The third way is by installing a keypad overlay. Circuitry within the phony keypad, which lays directly over the factory-installed keypad, records the victim’s keystrokes to obtain his or her PIN.
“This [skimmer placement], for the most part, happens during the overnight period,” Galano said. “The bank usually, if it’s a good bank, when they first open up, they do a physical check themselves. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, they’ll check it again. Then before they’re about to close the bank, they’ll look at it again.”
Officers informed attendees that ATMs at every 7-Eleven store within the precinct’s confines has been outfitted with a small, silver “NYPD” sticker, which is meant to deter perpetrators from placing skimming devices at the location.
“If you see that sticker is not there, just be very wary,” Galano said. “Take a double take; look at it.”
Rosa also added that 7-Eleven employees have been directed to contact the precinct when the stickers are missing or removed.
The officers also suggested that residents inspect any ATMs or credit card readers before using them. Residents should be suspicious if they see anything loose, cracked, damaged or scratched, the officers said. Should you note any of these things, officers strongly advise not using the machine.
ATM users should also be wary if many machines are broken in one location.
“If you walk into a vestibule that has numerous ATMs and all the ATMs are broken except for one, don’t use that ATM; it’s probably been compromised,” Rosa said. “They will bust the other ATMs so everyone is forced to use one ATM.”
Finally, when entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent potential hidden cameras from recording your number, officers also suggested.
“You really wanna be active with your bank accounts,” Galano said. “Check them; don’t wait for the statement at the end of the month … That’s another proactive approach.”