Suspects identified by Montgomery County police in ATM skimming schemes. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
WASHINGTON – Some high-tech theft has been going on at area ATMs and the crime can happen at the gas pump or any credit card reader, too.
Customers using two Bank of America ATMs in Bethesda and Chevy Chase were robbed of their account numbers by skimmers — hidden electronics placed on the ATMs.
Montgomery County police say two men have been using skimming devices to steal bank account numbers. They are still at large.
The devices were placed on ATMs several times in August, according to the Associated Press.
“This is not the first occurrence. This has happened at other times at different banks,” says Officer Janelle Smith, spokeswoman with the Montgomery County Police Department.
“The skimming devices steal the card numbers being used in the ATM, and then the suspects also obtain the PIN number and the PIN number along with the account number give the suspects access to the victim’s bank account,” she says.
Bank customers notified police when they noticed money missing from their accounts.
According to howstuffworks.com, ATM skimmers are used in conjunction with hidden cameras that record a customer’s hand entering the PIN.
To avoid getting skimmed at an ATM, gas pump or credit card reader, Smith recommends you inspect the device before swiping your card. There can be indications that a skimmer has been attached.
“They’ll look like a part of the device is loose or crooked or possibly damaged,” Smith says.
When entering your PIN, you also could block the keypad with your other hand.
ATMs inside banks are less vulnerable to skimming and Smith says ATMs in tourist areas are popular skimming targets.
Police say it’s always wise to beware of “shoulder surfers” — someone behind you who may be looking at your hand on the PIN pad to obtain your PIN.