In the latest in a string of credit union card fraud cases,hundreds of $467 million Quincy Credit Union members becamecasualties in a skimming attack affecting ATM/debit cardaccess.

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The Massachusetts-based financial institution temporarilysuspended its customers' ATM cards Sunday after multipleaccountholders reported via social media of fraudulent charges,missing funds and malfunctioning cards.

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Quincy President Stewart Steele told Boston's WBZ-TV officialslearned of the breach when hundreds of notifications started comingin from fraud detection services regarding unusual activity ondebit cards. The card fraud affected an estimated 670 accounts butthe dollar amount remained unclear.

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He said the shutdown, as well as a separate breakdown thatlimited online account access, began around lunchtime and lastedseveral hours.

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Steele said credit union officials believed hackers put thedevice on a machine in early December. The thieves then createdduplicate cards to withdraw cash at ATMs throughout New York Cityduring the weekend.

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The credit union posted to its Facebook page Sunday saying itwas aware of the suspected breach and was investigating. Dozens ofQuincy Credit Union's customers lined up to get new cardsMonday.

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Steele did not respond to a CU Times request forcomment.

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The credit union, with more than 30,000 members, has fullbranches in Quincy and Weymouth and two ATM locations.

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Skimming devices at credit union ATMs are anongoing threat. One pattern in these types of incidents is forfraudsters to visit ATMs, often at night, to install unauthorizedskimming devices and cameras to collect card data. They returnlater, after some members have used the device, to collectinformation including PINs. They then use data to manufacture fakecards to make withdrawals or purchases.

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Other recent skimming incidents include skimming device found onATMs belonging to $976 million Eugene, Ore.-based NorthwestCommunity Credit Union and $88 million Wilkes-Barre, Penn. ChoiceOne Community Credit Union.

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In November, debit card fraud rise in California created enough concernamong credit unions that at least one, the $933 million El Segundo,Calif.-based Xceed Financial Credit Union, took the unprecedentedstep of blocking cards used at 7-Eleven and Wells Fargoterminals.

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In August, the $679 million, Merritt Island, Fla.-based LaunchFederal Credit Union restricted PIN-less transactions totaling lessthan $50 following the discovery of fraud involving some of the credit union's debitcards.

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In June, The $2.7 billion, Richmond, Va.-based Virginia CreditUnion discovered card-skimming incidents at several ATMs andresulting fraud that left 2,000 debit cardholders vulnerable.

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Skimming is not only affecting financial institutions. InMichigan, out-of-state gangs covertly attached card readers andsmall cameras inside gas pumps, according to Mlive.com.The scams ran from early July to September this year.

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“All forms of magnetic stripe fraud are experiencing an uptick,particularly skimming, as the fraudsters make a push before fullEMV implementation. Credit unions, banks, retailers and ATM ISOsare all being hit,” Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based CO-OP FinancialServices Senior Manager, Public Relations and CorporateCommunications Bill Prichard told CU Times in an emailearlier this month.

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“Part of the training of bank and credit union personnel isphysical security training that covers the premises and ATMs. Ifemployees are not trained sufficiently they may overlook skimmersleft on ATMs and incidents like this happen easily as skimmers aregetting more sophisticated by the month,” Stu Sjouwerman,founder/CEO of the Clearwater, Fla.-based cybersecurity companyKnowBe4, stated.

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San Jose, Calif.-based card management firm Ondot EVP RachnaAhlawat said putting control directly into the hands of thecardholders is one way to minimize such breaches.

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“Empowering cardholders to have control to immediately turn offtheir payment cards after withdrawing cash is an effective way tominimize loss due to skimming attacks,” she explained. “It removesany guess work out of when your own customers (i.e. legitimatecardholder) may be trying to use the card. It really puts thecardholder in the driver's seat.”

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The Houston-based Cardtronics has been proactively strengtheningphysical security at thousands of ATMs nationwide. Specifically,the organization is installing counter measures as PIN pad covers,designed to defeat the cameras/video devices criminals use tocapture cardholder PINs as part of their ATM skimmingscheme.

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Roy Urrico

Roy W. Urrico specializes in articles about financial technology and services for Credit Union Times, as well as ghostwriting, copywriting, and case studies. Also: writer/editor of a semi-annual newsletter for Association for Financial Technology since 1997 and history projects funded by the U.S Interior Department, National Park Service and Warren County (N.Y.).