MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Card skimmers are on everyone's mind the past few days.
Many have contacted us wanting to know how to spot a skimmer and how to protect yourself.
This week, authorities have warned residents about card skimmers in both Midland and Odessa. One skimmer was found inside a gas pump at Kwik Chek Convenience Store off Rankin Hwy in Midland, the other two were found at First Convenience Bank inside of Wal Mart in Odessa off John Ben Shepperd Pkwy. and Midland off Rankin Hwy.
Authorities tell us the only way to stay 100% safe is to use cash. For those who prefer to use their cards Detective Daniel Stief has some advice.
The skimmers found at the ATMs are traditional ones. They are placed using double sided tape over the card reader already there. A chip inside stores your card information at the same time the ATM does. Sometimes these skimmers also have a camera to recording the key pad. The good news about these skimmers is they are easy to spot.
"You should be able to tug on it pretty good. If it peels off that's a bad sign. That's a sign you need to notify the bank and us. If it doesn't come off of course then you're good. Look for anything that's in front of the ATM that might be an obstruction because some of these cameras are big and bulky. Some of them are small and it might just be something out of place that's normally not at an ATM," said Stief.
A digital skimmer was found inside of a gas pump. These send information through Bluetooth and are impossible to see because they are placed inside. Stief says someone with a pump key placed this one. The best way to stay safe from these is by running your card as credit to avoid using your pin number.
"This is a card reader. When your magnet strip goes past this it reads your card just like this [ATM] card reader," said Stief.
If ATMs say it didn't read your card it does not necessarily mean that there might be a skimmer. Your card will be read by the skimmer and ATM.
"They have been around for a long time it's just we haven't seen a big fluctuation of like this where we're seeing a lot of them in multiple locations," said Stief.
Many banks are now using a policy where they have someone physically check the card readers to make sure nothing extra is there. Some banks do this as many as three times a day. If you suspect fraudulent activity to your account contact your bank and local authorities.