Tacoma police warn customers about recent credit card skimming at ATMs

TACOMA, Wash. — When you’re at an ATM, the first thing you probably do is make sure no one can see your PIN on the keypad.

However, the bad guys are one step ahead. Police say they’re using skimming machines to steal your information when you swipe your card.

According to Tacoma police, it only takes about five seconds for the bad guys to steal your credit card or debit card information.

“They’re just walking up to the machine as if they’re using it,” said Officer Loretta Cool with the Tacoma Police Department.

"It could happen to anybody," said Whitney Nelson, who recently had money stolen out of her bank account. "You need to check your bank account three our four times a day."

Cool said she isn't the only recent victim of credit-card skimming.

"Over the weekend, we received numerous reports from different citizens that they have been victims," said Cool. "We have seven reported victims."

Cool told Q13 News what the bad guys do is they put a device inside the credit card slot at an ATM, and that device reads or 'skims' your card.

"It uses the magnetic strip to retrieve all of the information on your banking account," Cool said. "Once you remove your card, the bad guy has all of the information from your account saved."

The police officer said they're usually found at gas stations or, in this case, at a local 7-Eleven store in Tacoma.

"It looks like a slot that you would put your card in," said Cool.

According to Cool, when you're at an ATM, even something as simple as shaking the card slot to make sure it's not loose, or looking inside for loose or dangling wires, can help you identify whether it's a credit card skimmer or not.

"If it moves at all, don't put your card in because it probably has a device that's attached to it," said Cool.

"I didn't even think about that. I thought'that could never happen to me," said Nelson.

So that's why Nelson said she hopes other ATM users out there will keep a close eye for these red flags before you stick your card inside.

If you're a victim of credit card skimming, police say file a report with them and make sure you report it to your bank as soon as possible.

Some banks only allow so much time to report fraudulent charges, so check with them right away.