An investigation is underway after skimmers were found at two Hudson Valley ATMs. Police offered tips on how to avoid getting your information stolen.

The Ramapo Police Department is currently investigating several incidents involving skimmer devices installed on ATMs at local banks.

The Ramapo Police Department didn't go into more details about where the skimmers were found but offered tips about what to look for.

Skimmers are illegal credit card readers attached to payment terminals at ATMs or on gas station pumps. They allow a third party to collect credit card data, including personal identification numbers, which can then be used for fraudulent purchases.

The skimmer, which looks very similar to the original card reader in color and texture, fits right over the card reader. When a customer inserts their ATM card, their bank account information on the card is skimmed or stolen and usually stored on some type of electronic device.

Town of Ulster Police
Town of Ulster Police

A hidden camera is typically used with a skimming device to record a customer's ATM PIN, police say. Cameras are usually concealed somewhere in the front of an ATM.

The use of a keypad overlay, which is placed directly on top of the ATM's keypad, is a new technique that can take the place of a hidden camera. Instead of recording a user's PIN, the keypad overlay stores the actual keystrokes.

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Credit card skimming results in over $1 billion in fraudulent credit and debit card charges per year, according to the FBI.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Commission offers several tips to help you find and avoid skimmer devices:

    • Do not use an ATM or a credit or debit card reader if anything looks suspicious, such as loose or extra parts. Alert the machine owner or the police immediately;
    • Avoid ATMs in remote places, especially if the area is not well lit or not visible to security cameras and the general public;
    • Go elsewhere if a sign directs you to only one of the multiple ATMs in a location. It could be the specific machine that was tampered with;
    • Shield keypads when entering a PIN at the ATM or a retailer's checkout area. This may block the view of a hidden camera;
    • Regularly check your bank and credit card accounts for unauthorized transactions, even small transactions.

Notify the bank or your local police department if you observe any suspicious equipment or activity at an ATM.

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