After ATM ‘skimming’, bank to restore losses

NORTH ARLINGTON – 

Is my money safe anywhere?

That’s what customers of one regional savings institution are undoubtedly thinking in the wake of police reports that someone recently attached a skimmer device to an ATM at a local bank.

North Arlington Police Chief Louis Ghione said that information received from Kearny Bank (former Kearny Federal Savings), which has branches in Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties and elsewhere, initially led police to conclude that the device was affixed to the Ridge Road branch in the borough.

“But it was actually [at another branch] in Lyndhurst,” Ghione said.

That, in turn, led to bank customers having their credit or debit card data stolen, along with their PIN numbers, the Associated Press reported.

As of last week, Ghione said, more than 100 Kearny Bank customers had reported unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts and “that number is probably climbing,” he added.

The culprits likely tapped “various sources” to draw money from those accounts, the chief said.

As a result, what Ghione characterized as a “multijurisdictional” police investigation is in process.

Ghione said that Kearny Bank has sent letters to the victims pledging to make good on those accounts that have been compromised.

On its website, Kearny Bank has posted a notice to its customers, stating, “ATM skimming is happening more and more frequently. Skimming occurs when criminals attach electronic devices to the card slots of ATMs to capture card numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs).

“ATM cardholders should periodically change their PINs to deter fraudulent use of captured card numbers and PINs. At Kearny Bank, we strongly encourage our ATM cardholders to periodically change their PINs to protect against ATM fraud. …”

This development comes at a time when Kearny Bank, a federally-chartered stock savings bank founded in 1884 and wholly owned by Kearny Financial Corp. with listed assets of $3.5 billion, is looking to complete a “second step conversion” to undergo a reorganization, from a mutual holding bank to a publicly traded stock holding company by mid-May.

As of May 1, the bank’s stock was listed as selling at $13.28 per share.

The Observer Staff