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Law enforcement seeing rise in card skimmer thefts

Tacoma, WA. – Next time you look over your monthly billing statement, keep an eye out for any unfamiliar charges.

Investigators are seeing more card skimmers: devices that can steal your banking information from a credit or debit card. 

“It slides right over the top and you can barely tell that they’re even there,” said Sergeant Darren Moss with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.  

Thieves plant those card skimmers at all sorts of businesses, including gas stations and grocery stores. 

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“It captures the information that’s on that magnetic stripe,” said TrustedSec Consultant Alex Hamerstone.” (This) then allows the scammers or the hackers or the attackers to either use those card numbers online, or to create new cards.” 

In the last three months, more than 30 U.S. cities have reported skimmer thefts. Moss says a lot more go unnoticed.

“It’s not often that they’re found,” Moss said. “Again, the thieves will put them on there, maybe leave them up for a couple of days, one night or a week and then come and take it away.” 

Skimmers fit over card readers

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Skimmers have been around for a while, but thieves are getting smarter.

“In the old days, they were often times very recognizable,” Hamerstone said. “They were clunky, they looked like they didn’t belong. But oftentimes, now they’re inside the card reader, they’re inside the slot. And so they’re really almost impossible to see.” 

There’s a couple of things people can do to make themselves less vulnerable to skimmer thefts.

Skimmers are getting harder to detect

“Go inside of the store and use that machine instead, because there’s a clerk always at the counter.” Moss said. “It’s a lot harder for them to try to install it at the counter. 

“If you avoid the swipe altogether and use a tap to pay, that’s another way to avoid these card scammers.”

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