Over the past year, the Washington Metropolitan area has seen a significant increase in the number of credit card fraud cases involving ATM skimming devices. Currently, the Alexandria Police Department is investigating one case involving the use of a skimming device on an ATM machine. The device was found on September 6 on the ATM at the SunTrust Bank located at 1460 Beauregard Street.
ATM skimming involves the use of a device that works by reading and saving all the account information stored electronically on the magnetic strip of your debit or credit card when you slide it into the machine. Depending on the device’s sophistication, the device also captures your personal identification number, PIN, either with a small camera hidden on the machine or with a keypad overlay that can be removed later. The suspect creates new cards using blank plastic card stock, which are then used to access the victims’ accounts. All of these devices can blend in extremely well with the real ATM hardware and can be hard to detect.
There are several ways you can protect yourself against these devices. Only use ATMs in well-lit, well-traveled areas that have security cameras installed. An ATM outside of a financial institution with a camera is much harder to retrofit than one in a poorly lit area with minimal foot traffic.
Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t talk on the phone while you are at the ATM. You will be more alert for suspicious devices. Before you use the ATM, check the machine and everything around it. Some possible signs of skimmers include:
• Parts that seem crooked
• Decals or stickers that are partially covered
• A reader that’s a different color than the rest of the machine.
• Many ATMs have lights around the slot; if these are not visible, it could mean a skimming device has been attached.
If you decide to use the ATM, protect yourself by covering your hand when entering your PIN.
If you notice anything suspicious or fear you may have been a victim of credit card fraud, please contact the Alexandria Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Section at 703.838.4711 or the Crime Solvers tip line at 703.838.4858.
Detectives would like to remind callers that they can remain anonymous.