On Monday, June 21, Bothell Police responded to a gas station/convenience store in the 20800 block of Bothell-Everett Highway – where three skimming devices were found on gas pumps. Officers gathered evidence including the devices, and are now investigating the crime.
Skimming devices are card readers that thieves attach on top of ATMs (or pay systems like those on gas pumps). Skimming thieves also conceal tiny cameras, aimed toward the key pad, to capture your pin code.
Newer variations (sometimes called “shimming”) are sometimes impossible to spot from the outside of the machine.
That’s why it’s so important to always 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.
If you suspect your card information may have been compromised:
- Contact your bank and get a new card, have the old/compromised one cancelled as soon as possible.
- Watch your bank account activity and statements carefully, looking for irregularities or unexplained charges. Report irregularities to your bank.
If you're a victim of skimming theft:
Call the Bothell Police non-emergency line, which is answered 24/7: 425.486-1254.
What can you do to protect your card and bank account?
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.
- Check to make sure inspection stickers are intact, not cut or damaged.
- 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.
- Learn more about what skimmers and hidden cameras look like, and what gives them away. Hint: it's not easy to break a legitimate pay system or ATM machine. Feel free to give components a small tug. If they wiggle, come loose or fall off: report immediately and don't use.
- 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 regularly and carefully and look for irregularities.
- Ask about charges that don’t look right and work with your bank to take action as soon as possible.
At Your Bank:
- Make an appointment to discuss additional and/or optional safety measures to protect your accounts and your bank cards.
- 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. If you believe you were a victim in this or another skimming crime in Bothell call 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.