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Rep. Steve Israel Warns Of Increasing Threat Of ATM Skimming

Rep. Steve Israel (file/photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Rep. Steve Israel (file/photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) on Wednesday warned consumers of the serious and ongoing threat of ATM scams.

At a news conference at the Bethpage Federal Credit Union, at 899 S. Oyster Bay Rd. in Bethpage, Israel said ATM skimming is on the rise.

“This is something that is not unique. It’s a $1 billion criminal enterprise, and these crimes are increasing 10 percent every year,” Israel said. “So we’ve got to do more about it.”

In ATM skimming operations, thieves install small and increasingly hard-to-detect devices on ATMs that collect information from the magnetic strip of a debit card.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Steve Scott Speaks With Rep. Israel

The information allows criminals to download the unsuspecting ATM user’s information onto a blank card to steal money from the victim’s account via other ATM withdrawals or debit purchases, Israel explained.

“It’s difficult to detect. It’s a $1 billion loss to the economy, and we need to take precautions against it,” Israel said.

Israel has called on the Secret Service to lead the fight against ATM skimming.

“It’s got to educate people so that they know how to protect themselves when they use the ATM cards, and it also has to coordinate more with local law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions of these crimes,” he said.

But credit union chief executive officer Kirk Kordeleski emphasized that the threat of skimming does not mean consumers should be afraid of using their debit cards.

“They should just be aware and use machines within well-lit secure areas that make it difficult for scanners to be installed,” Kordeleski said in a news release. “We encourage our members to check statements regularly and use ATM’s at Branches or large retail outlets like CVS, Costco, 7/11 and King Kullen.”

Many of ATM skimming cases are investigated by the Secret Service, but the public rarely finds out any details, Israel’s office said. The congressman wants more information released on such cases for the benefit of the public.

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