Victims in Vancouver lose hundreds of dollars to skimmers

Police don't have exact locations of where the skimmers may have been used, but say gas stations and ATMs are the most likely places. (KATU Photo)

Vancouver police are out with a warning about where people use their debit cards. They say criminals are using skimmers, which are illegal card readers that can grab personal bank cards' information without owners even knowing.

People swipe bank cards at banks, gas stations and grocery stores all the time without even thinking. Now, criminals are taking advantage.

Juan Valencia says she noticed $500 had been taken out of a bank account through an ATM in Vancouver.

Lindsay Chipman says she noticed $1,000 were pulled out of her bank account through several transactions at two 7-Elevens on Mill Plain and Fourth Plain, and a Bank of America in Hazel Dell.

Both Chipman and Valencia say they never made those transactions.

Vancouver police say they're victims of a recent string of debit card fraud, which all seem to be connected to skimming.

"I was mad. I feel violated. ... Do I have to change my whole account around, because how much of my information do they really have?" said Chipman.

"It's a lot of money to be missing. Not knowing where it went or who took it is just scary," said Valencia. "If it wasn't tax return season that would be devastating to us."

Police don't have exact locations of where these skimmers may have been used, but say gas stations and ATMs are the most likely places.

"I happen to wiggle [payment terminals] once in a while, but there's always times where we don't -- you just never know," said Valencia.

Fortunately, both Valencia and Chipman's banks will reimburse their money.

They were vigilant about checking their bank account, which saved them from losing even more money.

Vancouver police recommend these steps to avoid becoming a victim:

1) At gas stations, pay inside if possible. If you have to pay outside, check to make sure the gas pump has an intact seal.

2) If possible, don’t use a debit card, use a credit card.

3) Monitor your accounts on a regular basis.

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