The Prosper Police Department is advising Prosper residents to remember to protect their ATM personal identification number (PIN) when using ATMs in public. Assistant Police Chief Gary McHone said it is especially important during the upcoming holiday season as many people will be in malls or other crowded areas when using ATMs.

“As we’re coming into the holiday season, it’s going to be important for everyone to keep their PIN numbers covered in busy, crowded areas,” McHone said. “Take steps to guard that PIN number and be mindful of your surroundings.”

The Sherman Police Department recently issued a statement that criminals are targeting ATM’s to gain access to users’ bank account information. The crimes are most active in the cities south of Sherman, according to the police report.

“Criminals will use devices called ‘skimmers’ to collect your account information when you use an ATM machine,” Sgt. D.M. Hampton of the Sherman Police Department said in the police report. “The skimmer will be attached to what appears to be a part of the ATM.”

McHone said that so far, the Prosper Police Department has not received any reports of the use of skimmers, although they do receive reports and complaints of credit card and ATM abuse.

“We’re not aware of any skimmers that have been in use or are in use,” McHone said. “That’s not to say somebody shouldn’t still be mindful of that.”

The Sherman Police Department reported that many times a camera is disguised on the ATM machine. The camera will record which numbers an ATM user punches in for their PIN. Using the skimmer, a criminal can clone the card and gain access to the user’s account based on the video intel of the PIN.

“Sherman PD is suggesting that anyone using an ATM machine should cover their hand over the keypad to hide what PIN number is being entered,” Hampton said in the report. “This will hopefully keep criminals from getting access to your PIN number.”

McHone said that residents should always pay attention to their surroundings in order to keep their information safe.

“Be mindful of your area,” McHone said. “Don’t get too focused on your cell phone. Don’t get tunnel vision. Just be mindful of your area.”