Safeguarding Your Financial Information: Card Skimming Awareness

At First Citizens, we place the highest priority on the security of your information.

Customers should take steps to safeguard their credit and debit card information when using any payment processing machines, such as gas pump terminals or ATMs.

Be on the lookout for a scam known as "card skimming" that involves attaching an unauthorized device to a card terminal that reads the information on your debit and credit cards when you swipe them.

These devices often look like a legitimate part of the machine, but are actually designed to record the data from the magnetic strip on the back of your card for fraudulent purposes. Sometimes skimming also includes the unauthorized installation of a pin-hole camera to detect your Personal Identification Number (PIN).

The thieves use information from these skimming devices to create fake cards and/or make unauthorized purchases on your accounts.

Where to Detect the Signs of Skimming

Skimming devices can be difficult to detect. See examples below.

Card reader skimming device Card reader skimming device.
Pin-hole camera inside pamphlet box Pin-hole camera inside pamphlet box.

First Citizens Bank routinely monitors our ATMs for skimming devices.

How to Protect Yourself

The best way for you to protect yourself is to pay attention to the details of your card usage:

  • Examine the terminal prior to swiping. If you see anything suspicious — if the card reader appears loose, if it appears to be added on, if there is tape or a broken light, etc. — don’t use the device and notify the local merchant or bank if you suspect tampering.
  • Take steps to keep your debit card PIN safe.
    • Cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN, shielding your PIN from a potential camera or onlooker.
    • Consider using credit. A credit card transaction has an advantage over a debit card transaction in that it doesn’t require a PIN. (If you must use your debit card at a gas pump terminal, for example, consider not using your PIN. Select the option that allows you to have your debit card transaction processed as a credit card transaction. The purchase will still be drawn from your checking account, but a PIN is not needed.)
    • Change your PIN regularly. (You can conveniently change your PIN at any First Citizens ATM.)
    • Be smart about your PIN. Avoid using numbers as your PIN that correspond to your birthday, a phone number or home address that would be easy to look up. Never write your PIN on the back of your card.
  • Regularly review your account statements and use First Citizens Digital Banking to monitor the transactions made with your credit and debit cards.
  • Set up automatic alerts for large purchases, so you’ll be able to authenticate those transactions. (Account alerts are available to all our Digital Banking customers. Among the alert options, you can receive notices when transactions above or below a specified threshold post or are authorized to your account.)
  • Notify us immediately if you suspect there is an unauthorized transaction.

If You Think You've Been "Skimmed"

If you believe you used a card-scanning machine with a skimmer attached and think you’ve been compromised, contact First Citizens at 1.888.FC DIRECT (1.888.323.4732) daily 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and provide the location of the machine or name of the merchant.