Financial Crimes detectives are investigating several cases of skimming devices found at local businesses around the county between June and September. Criminals use skimming devices to capture information from credit and debit cards. Devices were found at the following locations:
- June 8: Exxon, 5211 Ox Road, Fairfax
- July 22: Exxon, 6330 Multiplex Drive, Centreville
- August 8: Exxon, 8021 Leesburg Pike, Vienna
- August 10: Exxon, 801 Dolley Madison Boulevard, McLean
- August 31: Exxon, 3403 Holly Avenue, Annandale
- September 16: Exxon, 6948 South Kings Highway, Alexandria
- September 27: Gulf Oil, 8689 Richmond Highway, Alexandria
- October 18, Wal-Mart, 6303 Richmond Highway, Alexandria
Our investigation shows some of the stolen credit card information was subsequently used at various ATMs to withdraw cash. Detectives are looking into whether any of these cases are linked, but suspect a number of gas stations were targeted because those locations had older-model machines that were easier to infiltrate and alter.
How does a skimming device work? A skimming device is affixed to, or installed into, a machine with a card reader. When you slide your card through the reader for your transaction, the device collects financial information from the card, to include PIN numbers.
Skimming devices in the 21st century are more technologically advanced. Older skimmers attach to, or cover, a machine’s card reader; an accessory device is usually hidden nearby. You may be able to see loose fixtures, tape or adhesives on a machine that would draw your attention to a problem.
Newer devices can be placed inside, or wired to, a card reader. Bluetooth technology allows criminals to obtain your credit card information without being present at the location or having to return there to collect or download financial information.
How can I protect myself? Financial Crimes detectives offer the following:
- Inspect the machine; you may not be able to see the actual device, but look for pry marks, scratches or signs of tampering
- Use your credit card (versus a debit/ATM card) when possible; your PIN can be recorded and it may be more difficult to have personal bank funds reimbursed
- Protect your PIN; use your hand to shield anyone nearby from observing your entry; be aware of strangers standing close to you or who offer to help you with “broken” machines
- Regularly check your bank and card statements for discrepant charges; if you notice anything fraudulent or questionable, contact your bank or credit card company immediately
- Monitor and report even small charges; stolen financial information is often used for small, ordinary purchases, like gas or groceries
- Try to use ATMs or machines in areas covered by security cameras
- If you feel you’ve been a victim of financial crime in Fairfax County, you can report it online through the Financial Crimes Online Reporting (FiCOR) system
Detectives are asking anyone with information to contact Detective. S. Reynolds at 703-246-7800 or Crime Solvers electronically by visiting http://www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org or text-a-tip by texting “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES(274637) or by calling 1-866-411-TIPS(8477), or call Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.