WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — West Lafayette police are investigating a card skimming incident at a local bank ATM. It was reported on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 25 at the Purdue Federal Credit Union ATM on Salisbury Street.
A credit card skimmers are electronic devices which steal credit and debit card information from card readers. Many of them fit over or blend in with the actual card reader, making them difficult to detect. The Federal Commerce Department said a criminal can use wireless technology to download the stolen information to a laptop.
"There's a bunch of different ways, sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can't, aesthetically changed on the outside," said Lieutenant Jon Eager with WLPD. He said it can happen just about anywhere your card is swiped - from gas stations, to bank ATMs and even local restaurants.
"At a restaurant or a store somebody may have a skimming device hidden and when you hand them your credit card they could swipe it and capture your data," he said.
According to Indiana's Criminal Code laws, unlawful possession of a credit card skimming device is a level six felony. That results in half a year to two and a half years in jail and a $10,000 fine for the person found guilty of the crime. Lt. Eager said they are investigating the incident at the PFCU ATM.
"I intend to reach out to the secret service to have them look at the skimming device," he said. "We don't have victims yet who have come forward that we know are attributed to this."
This ATM is not the only Purdue federal Credit union is concerned about. Carrie North is the Assistant Vice President of Marketing for the bank. She said this in a statement emailed to News 18:
"Due to findings from our routine ATM inspections, we are investigating potential shimming in some of our ATMs in Tippecanoe County that may have occurred in October. We do not know if these criminals were successful in obtaining card information. Our members should contact us immediately if they believe fraud has occurred on their account."
Lt. Eager said it can be hard for police to pinpoint where someone became a victim of a credit card skimmer, but the more people who report it to the police, the better.
"If you have groups of people who all have one commonality, everybody used this ATM or everybody ate at this restaurant then you can focus on where the compromise occurred at," he said.
He urges people to always pay attention to their banking activity.
"Look for charges that are foreign," he said, especially the ones that may be less noticeable. "A lot of times on credit card fraud, instead of the big purchase right up front, you'll get skimmed a little bit here and there monthly and if you do that to a bunch of people, it's still a lot of money."
North said PFCU gave security camera footage from the ATM to police to help in the investigation. She said they will post the most up-to-date information as the investigation continues on their website.