It's disguised to look like part of an ATM. Thieves use a skimmer to steal your credit and debit card information in just seconds, then drain your account.
Three people were busted this week for allegedly installing a skimmer at a bank in Bakersfield. 35-year-old Rhianna Lawrence and her sister 40-year-old Dawn Lawrence are both being held at the downtown jail on $1,000,000 bail.
Bakersfield police say the Lawrence sisters were skimming at several banks in California. Both women faced a judge Thursday afternoon, charged with burglary, conspiracy and identity theft.
Police say the sisters installed a card skimmer and video camera on the ATM at Chase Bank on Coffee Road, to steal bank card numbers and PIN information.
"We received information that the suspects who installed these devices, also installed similar devices in the San Bernardino area," said Michaela Beard, Spokeswoman, Bakersfield Police Department.
Police arrested the Lawrence sisters Tuesday, along with a 16-year-old who was taken to Juvenile Hall. A fourth suspect is still on the loose.
A vehicle search led police to skimming devices and counterfeit and stolen credit cards.
Eileen Leveckis, Spokeswoman for Chase Bank, issued a statement to 17 News Thursday afternoon. "Our fraud investigations unit confirmed that no customers at our Coffee Road branch were impacted by Tuesday's skimming incident," she said.
"Nevertheless, we always encourage our customers to regularly review their recent account activity and notify a Chase representative immediately if they see any suspicious activity on their account," Leveckis continued.
Katy Hudson, President of Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Bakersfield, said thieves are getting more sophisticated to steal your personal information.
But, there are ways to safeguard yourself against card skimmers. When you use an ATM, cover the keypad and check the machine, said Hudson.
"Technicians who work on these machines say go ahead and wiggle the slot, or if it looks funny, make a practice of going to the same ATM all the time," said Hudson.
"You know what your ATM looks like, you know what it feels like, and then if there is something different you might be able to spot it," she continued.
The Lawrence sisters pleaded not guilty. Their next court appearance is scheduled for December 27th.