The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office posted this image of a credit card skimmer
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office posted this image of a credit card skimmer after announcing the seizure of three such devices this week.
(Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook)
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Sheriff spreads word about credit card skimmers after three found across Santa Cruz County

On Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies were alerted about a skimmer attached to a Bank of America ATM in the Aptos area and recovered that device. They then found two additional skimmers at Bank of America ATMs in Watsonville and Felton.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office is warning people to be on the lookout for credit card skimming devices in the wake of three such devices being found countywide.

On Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies were alerted to a skimmer attached to a Bank of America ATM in the Aptos area and recovered that device. They then found two additional skimmers at Bank of America ATMs in Watsonville and Felton.

The devices are used by thieves who illegally install them on gas pumps or ATM machines to collect credit card data, which can then be used to make purchases or engage in other fraudulent schemes.

The sheriff’s office believes the three skimming devices here were installed by the same person on Tuesday, March 9.

Officials are asking people who might have used the three Bank of America ATMs since that date to “closely monitor their bank activity,” said Ashely Keehn, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. “We are still investigating if anything was compromised.”

On their Facebook page, sheriff’s office officials offered tips to spot skimming devices. “We do encourage individuals to be vigilant when using ATMs or fuel pumps, and if there is anything suspicious do not hesitate to let someone know,” Keehn said.

Among the tips:

• Use debit and credit cards with chip technology. In the U.S., there are fewer devices that can steal chip data versus magnetic strip data.

• Inspect ATMs, gas station terminals and other card readers before using. Look for anything loose, crooked, damaged or scratched. Don’t use any card reader if you notice anything unusual.

• Pull at the edges of the keypad before entering your personal identification number. Then, cover the keypad when you enter your PIN to prevent cameras from recording your entry.

• Use ATMs in a well-lit, indoor locations, which are less vulnerable targets.

• Be alert for skimming devices in tourist areas, which are popular targets.

• At gas stations, choose a fuel pump that is closer to the store and in direct view of the attendant. These pumps are less likely to be targets for skimmers. Also, consider paying inside with the attendant, not outside at the pump.

Anyone with information about the skimming devices recovered this week is asked to call detectives at (831) 454-7640.

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