Gastonia police are investigating a spike in frauds believed to be connected to a skimmer device in Gaston County.
Nineteen victims reported fraudulent transactions between between Saturday and Wednesday , police said. All of the victims except one are from Gaston County.
Police said it appears that debit cards and pin numbers were compromised when the victims used their cards and pin numbers at ATMs at various stores.
Skimming typically targets ATMs and gas pumps.
Criminals place the devices on ATMs to steal account data when consumers slip their debit or credit cards into the card reader. Tiny cameras or keypad overlays placed on the ATM by criminals are used to capture PINs.
Gastonia police offer these tips to avoid becoming a victim of a crook using a skimmer device:
▪ Look for broken security seal stickers at the gas pump, or anything that looks out of place at ATMs.
▪ Use cash only for purchases or a credit card not connected to your bank account. With a credit card, you have 30 days to dispute transactions as opposed to debit cards that withdraw money immediately from your bank account when the transaction is made.
▪ Routinely check your bank and credit card accounts to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions.
▪ Create a daily spending limit on accounts that notify you when the limit is exceeded.
Businesses can create an ATM checking routine to look for skimmers and report any skimmer device found to Gastonia police detectives at 704-866-6880 weekdays or to patrol officers at 704-866-3300 weeknights and weekends.