Crooks are in full-force at ATMs across the country and they don't even have to be on site.


Data thefts at bank ATMs, according to FICO, jumped 174 percent from the beginning of January to April 9, compared to the same stretch last year, the Wall Street Journal reported. At independent ATMs, attacks soared by more than 300 percent.

Bad actors are using skimmers and cameras at the machines to steal consumers' PIN codes and the personal information stored on a card's magnetic strip.

According to officials in New Jersey, though, such fraud has not been reported here.

"That's not to say that it isn't happening, but we haven't received any complaints about it," said Steve Lee, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. "If it does, of course, we would investigate immediately."

The unscrupulous devices only need to hang onto an ATM for just a few hours to gather the data of dozens of cards. Scammers can then use the information to create their own counterfeit plastic.

Lee said consumers should be cautious when using automatic teller machines, checking to see if anything looks askew, especially near the spot on the machine where a card would be swiped or inserted.

"In addition to that, what we tell consumers is that they should check their bank accounts regularly," he said. "Sometimes fraud is just difficult to detect and the criminals are getting more and more sophisticated, but what you can detect is if money's leaving your account or if your identity's been stolen."

The New Jersey Bankers Association could not comment on the technology and safeguards associated with ATMs and cards.