On Monday, June 21, Bothell Police responded to a gas station/convenience store in the 20800 block of Bothell-Everett Highway – where a worker found three skimming devices on gas pumps. The thieves also mounted very small cameras on the pumps to try to capture pin codes. The worker who spotted the skimmer quickly called Bothell Police , so officers could gather evidence and investigate.
Skimming devices are card readers that thieves attach on top of ATMs (or pay systems like those on gas pumps).
Newer variations (sometimes called “shimming”) are impossible to spot from the outside of the machine.
That’s why it’s even more important now to shield your pin code, so thieves and their tiny cameras – can’t see what you type. It takes practice. If you’re doing it right, it’s very hard for even you to see the numbers you’re typing. Trust us: It’s worth the effort.
What else can you do?
At gas stations:
- Use a gas pump that’s the closest or in full view of the cashier.
- Look for any irregularities around the gas pump and payment system.
- When possible, pay inside. It's not as convenient, but it's a safer payment option.
- Even when you're paying inside; shield your pin code. It's good practice.
- When possible, use an ATM that’s indoors. The ATMs inside a bank is almost always safer from skimmers than an outdoor ATM.
- Again, look for any irregularities. When in doubt; play it safe and don’t use it.
- Consider “cardless ATMs,” but be careful. Some banks now have “cardless ATMs” that allow you to use your phone to withdraw cash, no card needed. This helps keeps your account safe from skimmers, but not scammers. The more you use your phone and computer for your banking needs, the more you need to make sure your passwords, pin codes, and internet security are safe and strong.
Always check your bank statements and look for irregularities. Ask about charges that don’t look right and work with your bank to take action as soon as possible.
Call or make an appointment at your bank to discuss additional safety measures to protect your account.
- Consider setting a very low debit-card-spending limit per day. Get instructions on how to temporarily raise that limit, only when necessary.
- Give your bank permission to block unusual charges, and be prepared to give your bank a call to let them know about unusual purchases.
- Give your bank permission to block unusual, out-of town charges.
- If your bank is unwilling to help you take these and other proactive steps to protect your account -- switch banks.
There are so many good resources available to help you learn more about protecting your accounts, your identity, your money and more. The Federal Trade Commission's website is a wealth of useful information designed and created to help you and your family. There are up-to-date articles and many educational videos - to help you guard against scammers of all kinds. Watch the videos with family members and friends, so everyone you know has the latest, most useful information available.
Report Crimes to Bothell Police:
If you spot a skimming device on an atm or gas pump, call Bothell Police and report it. You can dial 911 or our non-emergency number 425.486.1254.
These crimes are frustrating. The good news is skimmer thieves often leave behind valuable evidence, including fingerprints and video that can help our investigators find and arrest them. You can do your part by shielding your pin code, and taking other small steps to secure your accounts, your private information, and your hard-earned money.