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ATM tampered with at Chase bank

Detectives await evidence to see whether credit card information was stolen with deceptive device.

August 06, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

LA CRESCENTA — Sheriff's detectives are investigating a security breach at a local Chase bank where alleged thieves placed a credit card skimmer on an ATM that may have allowed them to steal customer information.

Detectives are waiting to receive critical evidence, including surveillance tapes and a list of potential victims, from the Chase bank on the 2900 block of Foothill Boulevard to determine the scope of the July 24 breach, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Harley, who's based in La Crescenta.

Detectives don't know whether any accounts were breached because they need those details from the bank, he said.

A resident who was going to use the bank about 6 p.m. on July 24 noticed a credit card skimmer had been placed on the ATM and called the sheriff's station, Harley said.

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Credit card skimmers are small hand-held devices that read a card's magnetic strip and store information, such as names, account numbers and expiration dates.

"Anyone who used the ATM should check their accounts," he said.

Detectives were trying to determine whether the device was placed on the ATM a day before or the day it was discovered, he said.

Since the breach, no similar incidents have been reported to the sheriff's station, Harley said.

Card skimmers on ATMs has become a common problem throughout the nation, said Jay Foley, executive director of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center.

Identity thieves will often install small surveillance cameras with skimmers to catch bank users typing their pin numbers, Foley said. They also will frequently rewire or monitor bank keypads to get account pin numbers, he said

Some skimmers even are linked to small wireless devices that transmit pin numbers immediately to a cell phone via a text message, he said.

Before using any ATM, customers should slide their fingers along the skimmer to ensure it is safely secured, he said. They should also examine the ATM façade to determine whether it was tampered with, Foley added.

Card holders should also avoid using ATMs that are not associated with a bank, he said.

"Billions of dollars are lost through skimmers," Foley said.

Anyone with details about this case may call the sheriff's detective bureau at (818) 248-3464.

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