Watch for skimmer devices

Published on December 07, 2023


Skimmer devices are a popular tool thieves are using to gain access to credit and debit card information to make fraudulent purchases. 

How it works

  • Thieves place skimmers in locations where card readers are not always monitored like at gas stations, grocery stores and ATM machines. 
  • Skimmers are installed on card readers to collect card numbers. Often times, a tiny camera is planted to record the cardholder’s PIN number. 
  • Skimmers are Bluetooth wired, which means the thief is close by collecting card information. 

Before using your card, check for:

  • Card reader alignment. There could be alignment issues between the card reader and the panel underneath it.
  • Ripped security tape or sticker. If the security tape or sticker looks ripped or broken, avoid using the card reader because it is most likely tampered with.
  • A card reader that easily detaches. If you pull on a card reader and it easily detaches, that is a good indication that a thief is using a similar card reader face to collect card information.

Tips to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Avoid using outdoor ATM machines. Opt to use indoor ATM machines, if possible.
  • If you are using a debit card at the gas station pump, run it as credit to avoid using a PIN. That keeps the PIN safe and money isn’t deducted immediately. Better yet, just pay inside.
  • If you suspect or see a skimmer device is placed on a card reader, notify the bank or retailer and call the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station at (562) 623-3500. Refrain from using the card reader.
  • If your card has been compromised, report it to your bank or card issuer.
  • Monitor your credit card and bank accounts regularly to spot unauthorized charges.
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