Updated: December 23, 2019 02:40 PM
Created: December 23, 2019 06:22 AM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- You should keep an eye out for criminals trying to steal your information and money this holiday season. Local deputies are warning about widespread problem that can affect anyone with a bank account.
News10NBC’s Brennan Somers was asked about it for this week's Good Question report.
We talk about skimmers all the time and a viewer named Lucy wanted to know if we could show her one. Our reporting led to another bigger question.
Is there a skimming spree throughout Monroe County?
That answer is yes.
“The biggest issue with these devices is the fact that most people don't even know that they've used a skimming device until they get their bank statement and find out that someone’s using the card fraudulently,” Monroe County Sheriff's Office Deputy Brendan Hurley said.
The MCSO Economics Crimes Unit is looking into a crime spree throughout Rochester and the suburbs. Criminals are targeting innocent victims by ripping them off and skimming them.
Local detectives are working five cases. All involve local ESL branches and all happened within just a few weeks.
Someone hit up the ATMs and installed skimmers inside.
Three locations are in the county. One is in Brighton and another is in Rochester. The crimes happened from mid-august through the first week of September. No arrests have been made.
"These people are smart,” Deputy Hurley added. “They look for specific ATMs or gas pumps where they know nobody's watching.”
Thieves will take your information, steal your money, set up fake accounts under your name, or they may even sell your data. But how do you know if you are using a skimmer?
“As far as the [skimmer being] inside the only thing I know is it's just check for the seal and make sure it's not broken,” Deputy Hurley said.
Skimming is a growing problem across the country. It has gotten so bad that the U.S. Secret Service launched a nationwide crackdown.
"They're easy to create, they're easy to deploy and they can get a lot of stolen credit card data very quickly,” Secret Service special agent Matthew O'Neill told NBC News.
The agency seizes about 20 to 30 skimmers a week. Each one has information from about 80 cards on it by the time it is recovered.
These are the locations of skimmers found in MCSO’s investigation:
News10NBC got this response from ESL regarding the skimmers in Monroe County:
"We were aware of skimming devices being placed on some of our ATMs and the devices have been removed. All ESL members who were impacted by the devices have been contacted directly and those who experienced any fraudulent charges were reimbursed. The security of our members’ accounts is of the utmost importance to us. We continuously look for ways to update our security precautions to reduce the impact of these schemes and are working closely with the authorities on this investigation.
We advise members to always be sure to protect and safeguard their information. For safety at ATMs and protecting your accounts, we advise the following:
• Remove headphones and turn down music in your car so you are able to hear noises as you use the ATM.
• Use ATMs that are well-lighted and don’t stay at the ATM counting and sorting money. ESL maintains a lighting standard (as do most financial institutions) to comply with NYS ATM Safety Act regulations, and we make sure to inspect each ATM site regularly during the night hours for lighting compliance.
• Monitor your accounts daily for suspicious transactions
• Cover your hand when entering your PIN at an ATM
• ESL has an app called ESL Card Control that allows you to turn your ESL Debit Card off (and back on) if it’s misplaced or lost, gain visibility with spending activity by amount, merchant, or location, and gain control by receiving immediate transaction alerts
• Use complex passwords at least 12 characters long for online logins
• Change your passwords frequently
• Don’t conduct any sensitive transactions over public WiFi.
ESL takes member security protection with the utmost seriousness and have security software in place to protect and monitor accounts, as well as security technologies throughout all of our branches and ATMs with a team monitoring 24/7. If members ever suspect a transaction as being fraudulent, we can be reached at (585) 336-1000, via Live Chat on esl.org or by stopping in one of our 22 branches, and our team will be happy to help."
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