Monday, May 16, 2016

Abigail Lootens / Katyusca Abreu
Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042

Department of Consumer Affairs Warns New Yorkers Against Credit and Debit Card Fraud at ATM and Credit Card Machines

Identity thieves are increasingly using devices known as “skimmers” that attach to ATMs or credit card machines and steal consumers’ credit card and PIN numbers. The device is typically a simple plastic sheath placed over the card slot that appears to be part of the machine and that reads the magnetic strip on your card and then transmits the account information or saves it until the device is retrieved. Thieves may also use a concealed wireless camera on or near the ATM or card machine to capture your PIN as you enter it. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) offers these tips to protect yourself from card skimmers.

“Research indicates that credit card fraud can cost consumers as much as $6 billion a year, which is alarming,” said DCA First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico. “As identity thieves become more sophisticated, DCA is urging New Yorkers to beware of credit card skimmers whenever they pay with their credit or debit card at a gas station or take out cash from the ATM.”

  • Be safe. Use ATMs that are in the bank lobby or under video surveillance and avoid using ATMs in nonbank or remote locations. At the gas station, keep an eye on your card if you have to give it to the store clerk to pay, or pay inside or use the pumps closest to the attendants and, at night, the pumps that are best lit.
  • Be alert. Take a close look at the ATM or credit card machine. Does anything look unusual? Is a piece loose or out of place? Is the keyboard raised or a different color? Don’t use it if it looks as if it’s been tampered.
  • Be smart. Many stores are switching to chip-card readers, which have better security. If it’s an option, insert your card into the chip-reader rather than swiping it. If you have the option, use a credit card instead of a debit card because credit cards have stronger fraud protection and you won’t have to enter your PIN. And when using your debit card, choose credit whenever possible to avoid entering your PIN.
  • Be careful. Cover your keypad when you enter your PIN so it can’t be seen by another customer or an illegal camera.
  • Report it. If you notice that an ATM or credit card machine has been tampered with, don’t use it and report it to the bank or business. Take a photograph of the device but don’t touch it because it may be used as evidence by law enforcement. If you think you’re a victim of identity theft, act quickly. Get more identity theft prevention tips and learn what to do if you’re a victim at

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses, inspects, and educates businesses, assists and informs consumers, mediates complaints, and offers free financial counseling and safe banking products. DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law, the Paid Sick Leave Law and other related business laws throughout New York City and licenses nearly 80,000 businesses in 55 different industries. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.