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Scammers hit metro ATMs with skimmers

EDMOND, Okla. - At least two financial institutions tell NewsChannel 4 they have been hit by people looking to steal personal information from consumers.

Tinker Federal Credit Union and First Fidelity Bank have both been the targets of skimmers -- a device used to covertly swipe debit card numbers from people who believe they are paying or using an ATM.

"We were surprised to find one here," said Matt Stratton of TFCU. "We keep a close eye on our machines and it's the first time it's ever happened to us."

Skimmers are not a new technology. Crooks have used them in the past, largely targeting gas pumps.

In both reported cases, financial information was not compromised.

At a Tinker machine in Edmond, the ATM was tampered with but the skimmer was never installed.

In Norman, a First Fidelity machine was in place for hours. In a statement, the bank told NewsChannel 4:

The security of our customers’ financial information is a priority for First Fidelity Bank. A skimmer was discovered and promptly removed from an ATM at one of our Norman branches within hours of it being installed. There were no monetary losses to any of our customers, and we promptly identified, contacted and replaced the cards of the 49 customers that used that ATM. We encourage customers to inspect card readers before inserting or swiping their card to ensure a skimmer has not been installed, and to review transactions on a regular basis to spot fraudulent activity.

"It doesn't surprise me in this day and age because you've seen so many ways that the fraudsters will use technology to try to make a few bucks," Stratton, of TFCU, said. "It's extremely frustrating. Somebody's got those kind of skills, why don't they get a tech job somewhere and earn an honest living?"

Skimmers can be difficult for consumers to detect. Stratton recommends people using ATMs pay close attention to where they insert their cards.

Parts that look out of place or newer than others can be a giveaway that a skimmer may be in use.

The most effective monitoring, however, can occur after using an ATM.

"The main thing is to keep a very close eye on your account and as soon as you notice a charge or a transaction that you didn't do, notify your financial institution," Stratton said.

In the meantime, Tinker Federal Credit Union will continue using the newest possible machines to prevent it from being victimized, Stratton said. He believes updated technology ultimately thwarted the most recent attempt at skimming.

"What you have to do is always stay one step ahead of the guys who, like I said, are smart enough to do this kind of thing," Stratton said. "They'll try to beat any system and we'll try to stay ahead of it if I can."