BOISE, Ida. — Boise Police are warning the public to be aware after credit card skimmers are found on ATMs across the city.
Police say they've received several reports of skimmers on local banking ATMs around Boise recently. Credit card skimmers are devices designed to steal your financial data when you're accessing it at a point of sale, like a gas station pump or ATM. When you insert your debit or credit card into a machine, a reader on the inside interprets the information on the card's magnetic strip. That, coupled with your PIN, gives you access to the money in your bank accounts.
If you put your card into a machine that has a skimmer, a reader on the device can record the information from your card's magnetic strip. A second element is able to record your PIN, meaning you've accidentally given your information and access to your funds to a criminal.
Police say most recently thieves placed skimmers on ATMs that look similar to the normal machines, meaning consumers using them would likely never notice the device and would only find out they've been victimized by checking their financial statements or being alerted by their financial institution of suspicious charges.
Boise Police are asking everyone who uses an ATM to check their financial statements and report any fraudulent charges to their financial institutions and local police. Local agencies work closely with the U.S. Secret Service to track and investigate these types of crimes since they often cross local, state, and sometimes even international boundaries and jurisdictions. If you see a charge you know you didn't make, you should call your bank or financial institution and the local police right away.
Officers are also asking business owners to remain vigilant and to carefully check their equipment regularly. The skimmers that have been found recently are very small and would not be easily noticed. If anything appears to be different or out of place in your machines, call 911. Detectives believe thieves are able to install the skimmers quickly but must spend time at the machine to disassemble it to some degree.
Many suspects found to be responsible for these types of crimes are not local but travel to different locations to install the skimmers. They return some time later to retrieve them. Anyone who sees suspicious activity near a gas pump or ATM should call 911 immediately.
There are ways to avoid being scammed with a skimmer: first, inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue. You can wiggle the card insert location as well to make sure nothing comes apart.
When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number. If possible, use an ATM at an inside location as that provides less access for criminals to install skimmers. Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas, rural areas or standalone ATMs as they tend to be a popular target of scammers.
If your card isn't returned after the transaction or after hitting "cancel," immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card. You should also be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles near the ATM or for people hovering nearby that may be watching over a skimming device.