FAIRFIELD, Calif. - Police in Fairfield are warning residents to be on the lookout for credit card skimmers after an alert citizen spotted a suspicious device attached to an automated teller machine last week.
The citizen flagged down an officer in the 1400 block of Travis Boulevard after noticing a mirror with wires attached to a machine at an outdoor walk-up ATM.
The officer found that it was a skimming device disguised as the ATM's rearview safety mirror, with the mirror masking a pinhole camera designed to record bank transactions, card numbers, and customer PIN codes, Fairfield police said.
Police advise ATM users to consider the safety of an ATM before using it. Always assume someone is watching, whether over the shoulder or through a hidden camera, and always cover your hand while entering a PIN number, police said.
Common locations for skimmers include gas stations and convenience store ATMs, although credit union and bank ATMs are also subject to skimming attacks.
Criminals frequently install skimmers on ATMs that aren't located in busy locations since they don't want to be seen installing them or collecting the harvested data, police said. Indoor ATMs are generally safer to use than outdoor ones, since criminals can access outdoor machines unseen.