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Data "skimming” devices can be hard to detect, but there are some clues to watch for.

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ATM skimmer discovered at Brattleboro convenience store

Police warn public of threat to personal and financial information, offer tips for protecting data

BRATTLEBORO—Police are cautioning people to watch for skimmers — electronic devices used to illegally capture personal information stored on bank cards — when using local ATMs and other machines that scan credit or debit cards.

According to a Brattleboro Police Department press release, thieves can attach these skimmers to legitimate card scanners like ATMs or gas pumps and steal bank account information and other data.

Detectives from the BPD’s Criminal Investigation Division launched an investigation on Sept. 22, when the department received complaints of fraud at a local business on Western Avenue, Det. Lt. Michael Carrier wrote in a press release.

On Sept. 22, an electronic “skimmer” was found attached to an ATM there.

An employee at Brattleboro Savings & Loan confirmed to a staff member of The Commons that the business involved was the 7-Eleven at 1020 Western Ave.

That bank immediately cancelled customers’ cards as a precaution.

Anyone who used any card from any financial institution at that ATM could have financial accounts and personal information at risk. “Many victims do not realize their data has been compromised until fraudulent charges appear on their bank statements,” Carrier wrote.

Referencing an unnamed cybersecurity industry expert, Carrier wrote that “card skimming accounts for 80 percent of automated teller machine [ATM] fraud.”

The BPD recommends taking these steps to help protect against “skimmer” fraud:

• Inspect the card reader and the area near the PIN pad for any suspicious devices or tampered-with equipment.

• If using a debit card, attempt to conceal the PIN from visual detection by covering the keypad with your hand as you enter it.

• Use gas pumps and ATMs that are in plain view of passersby and surveillance cameras.

• Look at other nearby gas pumps or ATM card readers to see if they match the one you are using.

• For ATMs, inspect the device — look for uneven colors, loose PIN pads, extra pieces — and tug on the card slot before inserting card.

• Avoid gas pumps where the tamper-safe security seal affixed to the pump has been broken.

Detectives are collaborating with local banks to identify the person or persons behind the skimming, Carrier wrote.

If you believe your account has been compromised, please contact your banking institution or the Brattleboro Police Department at 802-257-7950.

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