BBB Advisory: Protect Yourself from Card Skimming

August 26, 2014

Roanoke, VA - With recent reports of ATM card skimming in northern Virginia, BBB is advising residents throughout Virginia to protect themselves from the growing scam.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, several card skimming devices were found on area ATM machines that allow criminals to steal credit or debit card data. With the scam growing in both sophistication and frequency, there’s a good possibility skimmers are currently being used throughout the state and residents need to take proactive steps to protect themselves.

“Identity theft can be a scary crime because many times we aren’t aware of it until after the damage is done,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “That is why it’s so vital to safeguard your personal and financial information and regularly monitor your credit card and banking account statements for unauthorized transactions.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, if someone uses your ATM or debit card before you report it lost or stolen, your liability depends on how quickly you report it. If someone makes unauthorized transactions with your debit card number, but your card is not lost, you are not liable for those transactions if you report them within 60 days of your statement being sent to you. However, if you don’t report the theft within those 60 days you may be liable for up to $500 of the losses.

To help reduce ATM skimming and reduce fraudulent transfers, the BBB offers the following tips:

Inspect the ATM – Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit or low trafficked areas. Experts often recommend choosing a bank ATM over stand-alone ATMs in public places. Look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage. Don’t hesitate to walk away and use another ATM if something appears out of the ordinary. Check for scratching around the card slot, adhesive tape or glue residue, and if the device can be removed, you should alert bank staff or call the police immediately.

Look for hidden cameras – Criminals may use a camera to obtain your PIN. Look for anything that may have a tiny hole or slot for a camera that is aimed at the keypad.

Protect your PIN – When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to protect your private information from any potential cameras in the vicinity. Periodically change your PIN.

Monitor your statements – Even the most careful person can fall victim to skimmers. Keep a close eye out for suspicious charges on the itemized breakdown of your accounts. Through your financial institution, you can also sign up for alerts that will notify you when certain types of transaction occur.

Report fraud immediately – Report any fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it. Consumer protections for debit and credit cards vary but depend largely on when the fraudulent activity is reported. If you wait too long to report the fraud, your bank account could be cleaned out and your bank might not reimburse you.

If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit  Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.