SPOKANE, Wash. – A scam known as "skimming" that is usually seen in bigger cities like Seattle or New York, was found at an ATM on North Division in Spokane.
Skimming is a scam where criminals install their own card readers directly on top of the slot where a person would insert their debit or credit card at an ATM machine. Then once the credit card has been swiped through the fake device, criminals can steal a person's bank account information.
The trickiest part of the scam is that the fraudulent card readers are designed to look just like the real ATM card reader installed by the financial institution.
The skimmer is fitted right over the machine, which means criminals have to use some kind of adhesive to get it to stay in place. Spokane Police say to avoid falling victim to the scam, look for any scratches, glue or tape on the machine.
The Spokane Teachers Credit Union also recommended examining the ATM before inserting a debit or credit card.
"If you are just a little skeptical or if you are worried about this, go ahead and give this [the card reader] a tug," said STCU Senior Communications Officer Dan Hansen. "A skimmer is attached with double back tape, so it will be a little loose. The crooks will have to be able to take that off later to download the data."
Another big giveaway is that most ATM card readers at banks light up where the card is swiped. The fake device will block the light or obscure it in some way, so if it does not light up it is possible there is a skimmer blocking it.
However, it is not just the skimmer one has to watch out for. Criminals also install cameras along with it to steal pin numbers.
The best way to avoid this is to cover one's hands when typing in the pin number or by leaning over it so something is blocking the top of the ATM where a camera may be positioned.
Finally, do not be careless with your pin number. STCU says the biggest problem in Spokane is people picking pin numbers that are easy to guess. They say not to use dates or write down pin numbers on paper.