How to protect your money from card skimmers this holiday season

Alyssa Flores Image
Friday, December 9, 2022
How to protect your money from card skimmers this holiday season
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What might look like an ordinary checkout stand could actually be a card-skimming device intended to steal your bank card information.

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- As customers swipe away while shopping this holiday season, Madera police are warning about the new strategies that thieves are using to steal bank information.

What might look like an ordinary checkout stand could actually be a card-skimming device intended to steal your bank card information.

Police say that criminals work in teams to distract employees while installing card skimming devices at gas stations, stores, and even banks.

Earlier this year, suspects were caught on camera as they worked together to install a skimmer at Rancho San Miguel Market.

"While they are distracted and helping out one customer, the other person in that crew will then install the skimmer device," explained Madera Police Detective Jacob Dunn.

The Madera Police Department has received over a 100 reports from people in the community this year who have had their bank accounts, or even their EBT cards, compromised by a skimmer.

Last month, there were reports of two ATMs at banks being rigged with skimming technology.

"They already know what the ATM machine looks like, and they are going to be designed to blend in perfectly with that. By its size, color and the model of the card reader," said Dunn.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Use your hand to cover your finger when you are entering your pin number.

Sometimes, skimming devices are installed alongside cameras, meant to capture you punching in digits at the ATM.

When using your card, gently wiggle on the card reader.

A skimmer would fit on top, similar to a phone case.

"It's been created to blend in with the machine itself already," Dunn said.

Similar incidents have been reported all over the Valley.

Images from a Fresno Police Department investigation show how easy it might be to overlook a skimmer.

Tomas Contreras says he tries to pay the old fashion way to avoid being scammed by a device.

"I have always been used to having cash on me. So, I mostly just pay cash," explained Contreras.

Stephen Powell prefers to use tap-and-pay technology, which police say is more secure.

"Today, I had to use card because this one doesn't have Apple Pay unfortunately, which is rare. But 9 times out of 10, it'll have Apple Pay," Powell said.

Officers say to make sure you are always keeping a close eye on your bank account. Don't just look out for big suspicious transactions.

Sometimes, thieves will take small amounts over a long period of time.