A recent report finds that illegal card skimming continues to grow and has cost consumers more than $2 billion. Skimming is big business, netting crooks an average of $50,000 ($50,000!) each time.

Unfortunately, skimming is an increasingly popular method for thieves to steal credit or debit card numbers and PINs, where cardholders swipe to pay or withdraw funds. Popular skimming spots include gas stations and ATMs because the pay-at-the-pump card reader and ATM vestibules are often left unattended, making it easier for thieves to cover the card slots and number pads.

To avoid becoming a victim of ATM skimming and other forms of fraud, it’s important to be observant. Here are five things to keep in mind next time you use your card:

  1. Check and report it. Check the card readers at gas pumps, ATMs and other on-site card terminals for loose wires and devices placed over the card reader. At gas pumps, make sure the card reader doesn’t look like it’s been forced open. If anything looks out of the ordinary, report it to your bank or gas station attendant.
  2. Wiggle the reader. Wiggling the card reader before you insert or swipe your card helps determine if there are any foreign objects affixed to the card reader or pin pad.
  3. Use your regular ATM or an in-door ATM. Use familiar ATMs in your neighborhood, so you’re more likely to notice any tampering. Indoor ATM, inside stores and banks, are typically safer than outdoor ATM vestibules, since criminals are less likely to install skimming devices in highly monitored locations.
  4. Cover up. Cover up the keypad with your other hand while typing in your PIN number or other information. In the event a camera is focused on the keypad, keeping it covered helps to avoid compromising your PIN number.
  5. Monitor. Regularly review your account and check your monthly statements for usual activity. Utilize our online banking tool and mobile app to monitor your account, check your balance and look for anything unusual.

FirstBank has a zero-liability fraud policy. Customers are not responsible for any fraud that occurs on their debit or credit card. For more information about how FirstBank works to safeguard your money and personal information, visit us online at efirstbank.com or call 800-964-3444.

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