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Each year clever thieves steal millions of dollars from consumers by "skimming" their personal account information. Skimming, also referred to as "card cloning," involves a thief installing a magnetic card reader, or skimmer, over the actual card reader at an ATM or gas pump.

When you swipe your card, the skimming device steals the information and transmits it to a remote computer. At the same time, a tiny hidden camera reads your PIN as you key it in.

The camera is often installed in a bar the thief has affixed to the machine to look like the ATM's trim. Criminals/thieves usually ensure their counterfeit equipment matches the machine's color scheme so it's more difficult to see. Their methods are growing more sophisticated, including keypads that fit over the machine's real keypad, eliminating the need for the camera. 

Here are a few steps to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Always use the same ATM as often as possible. Memorize how it looks so you will recognize anything different or suspicious.
  • Inspect the ATM with each use. If anything looks unusual (cracked, loose, scratched, or taped), don't use it.
  • Popular tourist locations ATMs are highly targeted by criminals, so avoid these ATMs if you can. When possible, use indoor ATMs, which are harder for thieves to tamper with.
  • Cover the keypad with your free hand when entering your PIN. This will block the view of a spying camera. 

Although we monitor our INOVA ATMs with security cameras and frequent checkups, not every ATM you encounter may be as heavily guarded, therefore putting you at risk. It’s important to check your account often to detect any fraudulent charges as early as possible. If you notice unusual activity on your INOVA account, contact us immediately at (800) 826-5465.