Ten years ago, we might have said, if high-tech can’t solve security problems, its future is limited. Today, high-tech is the King Kong that dominates everyone, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future.
That doesn’t mean security problems have gone away. If anything, they are more daunting and they are inescapable.
A case in point happened here in Otsego County Saturday, May 19, when a “skimmer” was discovered on an ATM at the Community Bank drive-thru on Southside Oneonta. This device was placed by someone with mischief in mind over that slot on an ATM machine where you slide your credit or debit card.
The “skimmer” will read the information on the magnetic strip on your card, and a little micro-video camera will send it to the person who put the “skimmer” in place, who can then use the data to access your credit information or to make purchases fraudulently.
It turns out, the “skimmer” was placed late on the evening before. The ATM itself diagnosed something was wrong, alerted the repair technician and turned itself off. When the technician arrived the next morning, he quickly figured out what had happened and alerted state police at Troop C, Sidney.
As it happened, the security camera caught an image of the man who placed the “skimmer,” and he looks very much like the man who placed one at another Community Bank branch in Scranton, Pa., in early February, and at a nearby PNC Bank branch in Kingston, nearby Scranton, about the same time.
The photos have been widely circulated, first in the Scranton Times; last week in Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal. And no one’s called with an identity yet, so it’s possible that the suspect’s wearing a disguise.
The baseball hat helps. He’s wearing thick-rimmed glasses, and it looks like he may have a false nose.
If you Google “skimmer” devices, you’ll find they look pretty slick. It seems like they actually fit over the ATM slot and unless a customer doesn’t look closely, he or she wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
This kind of thing – and the FBI’s “router alert” issued on Memorial Day advising computer users to restart their machines to side-track Russian trackers – has to concern everyone about the dangers of participating in our brave new technological world?
In reality, high-tech is ubiquitous. There’s no opting out.
As it happens, though, Community Bank – and the banking community, generally, no doubt – has been preparing for this and all sorts of other mischief.
One of community’s vice presidents, Hal Wentworth, quickly issued a statement advising customers of something called “Visa’s zero-liability policy” in cases of fraud or unauthorized use of accounts. When this sort of thing happens, it seems, the credit-card company’s customers are protected.
Wentworth asked anyone who suspects a data breach to alert the bank. The investigator, Capt. Scott Heggelke, said no one has come forward, so it looks like customers are in the clear.
Meanwhile, if any other problems occur, or if anyone thinks they recognize our friend with the baseball cap, call state police at 607-432-4844 and perhaps at least this specific situation will be resolved.
Even so, King-Kong will remain.
ONEONTA – State police reported today a card-skimming device was found in the ATM on the Community Bank drive-thru window at its Southside Oneonta branch on Route 23, and also released a photo of a man they suspect may have placed it there.
The device, which fits inconspicuously over the card slot, reads information from any card that it swipes; the data can then be used to make fraudulent purchases.
“If it happened, I want to know about it,” said local American history collector Ed Leone, Oneonta, as he explained his love of collecting memorabilia. “If it existed, I want to own it. I just don’t have room for the pyramids.” Leone has spent the past 30 year collecting all sorts of artifacts and items relating to American history. In honor of Black History Month, Leone rented the display case in front of Community Bank on Main Street, Oneonta, and filled it with his collection of items relating to African American history in the United States. Pictured at right are Leone’s painting of boxing legend Muhammed Ali and a t-shirt featuring a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s an important part of our history,” said Leone. “I look at this as just another part of American History that needs to be preserved.” (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)
LOCAL HISTORY – 7 p.m. “Lose the Battle, Win the War: Women’s Fight to Vote in Cooperstown,” a presentation with the League of Women Voters exploring the movement in Otsego County that lead to women gaining the right to vote across New York State 100 years ago. Christ Church Parish Hall, 69 Fair St., Cooperstown. Info, www.facebook.com/LWVoftheCooperstownArea/
MILFORD – Community Bank branches across Otsego County acting as food-pantry drop-off points after the Milford United Methodist Church fire earlier this month. The church operated a food pantry, lost all of its supplies in the fire.