Officials warn residents to give any ATM a good once-over before withdrawing cash after authorities found a skimming device on one of the cash machines September 6.
The devices reads and saves account information electronically stored on the magnetic strip of a debit or credit card when inserted into an ATM. Some skimmers also can record an individuals personal identification number with a small hidden camera or with a keypad overlay.
Thieves can use the information to create new cards using blank plastic stock and then break into the victims account. Camouflaged to look like part of the teller machine, the skimmers are hard to detect, authorities said.
With the number of credit card fraud cases stemming from skimmers have risen significantly in the past year, authorities recommend only withdrawing money from teller machines in well-lit, well-travelled areas. ATMs stationed outside of a bank are much harder to tamper with than one in a poorly lit and isolated area, police say.
Possible signs of skimmers include crooked parts, partially covered decals or stickers, a reader of a different color than the rest of the machine and a lack of lights around the card slot, according to police.
Authorities also recommend citizens cover their hands as they punch in their PIN to further avoid fraud.
Department spokesman Jody Donaldson said the warnings were prompted after a technician found a skimmer on a SunTrust ATM at 1460 Beauregard St. The device remains under investigation, though authorities have no suspects.
Officials urge anyone noticing something suspicious at an ATM or have become a victim of credit card fraud contact Alexandria Police Departments Criminal Investigations Section at 703-838-4711 or the Crime Solvers tip line at 703-838-4858.