Safe&Sound: Protect Yourself From Skimming Scams at Virginia Gas Pumps and ATMS

Skimming devices capture data from your bank or credit card when you use them, especially at out-of-the-way ATMs, gas pumps, and self-checkout machines, where a scammer can install the skimming device without being seen. It's a small device that attaches to a card reader allowing a thief to illegally collect the card information of unknowing payers. Machines are altered slightly, but often not enough to alert the average consumer. Fairfax County police found 21 skimmers at 15 different gas stations across the county over the past year. This crime has been on the rise in throughout Virginia in recent months leaving community members wondering how to avoid becoming a victim. 

Virginia law enforcement have some tips to help protect you:

  • Be aware and look for loose, broken, or chipped card reading devices, or any indication of damage on or near ATM/gas pump machine. 
  • Try to avoid using older pumps. These tend to be more prone to tampering.
  • Be on the lookout for parts that don’t appear to belong or match the machine.
  • At gas pumps, take a good look at the card reader itself. Does it look different than other readers at the station? 
  •  Check reader cover to see if it wiggles or comes off easily- skimmers usually are held on with glue or double sided tape.
  • Cover your PIN number with your hand to avoid possible hidden cameras. 
  • Look for tampering of seal tape on door where card reader is located at gas pumps. If anything seems suspicious, the device should be avoided. 
  • Use familiar ATM’s in conspicuous areas and limit your visits. 
  • Use chip credit cards when possible and avoid using magnetic strip swiping.
  • Use a credit cards instead of a debit or ATM cards, if possible.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for unfamiliar transactions.

If you think you have become a victim of skimming:

Immediately contact the bank or credit card company to report the fraud. There are liability time limits (typically debit cards- 2 days, credit cards- 60 days from receiving a statement). If you wait longer, your liability could increase. Also:

  • Change passwords and PIN’s. 
  • Closely monitor account activity/Bank statements. 
  • Request a copy of your credit report. 
  • Add a fraud alert to credit card reporting agency 
  • Contact each creditor directly to make them aware of the fraud. 
  • Report theft to Federal Trade Commission and your local police.

We hope this information helps protect you and your loved ones. Share this information with your friends and neighbors too. Being aware this the first step to keeping your information and your community safe and sound.

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