COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is encouraging consumers to closely watch their bank accounts in case of "skimming scams."

Skimming scams refer to the practice of stealing debit or credit card numbers and other account information stored on the card's magnetic strip.

Skimming devices are often camouflaged to fit gas pumps and ATMs, and they may be equipped with hidden cameras. The cameras also may be used to take snapshots of debit card PIN numbers as consumers enter them.

In some cases, consumers' credit or debit card numbers are stolen by restaurant servers or store clerks who take a card and swipe it through a skimming device that they carry with them.

Once the scammers have acquired the account information, they use it to make unauthorized purchases and withdrawals.

"It is important that consumers are aware of skimming scams in order to protect themselves and their families," DeWine said in a statement Wednesday. "Our office continues to encourage Ohioans to carefully monitor their financial accounts and report all unauthorized use."

The Attorney General's Office suggests consumers do the following:

- Review your bank statements and track debits closely. Look for any unauthorized withdrawals or suspicious activity. Also watch your credit card statements for signs of skimming;

- Use one ATM and one particular gas pump; it will be easier to track which machine has the skimmer if you are scammed;

- Try to use an ATM that is located in a very public place or is located inside a bank lobby. Scammers are less likely to tamper with machines in those locations; and

- When using your bank card, choose the "credit" option instead of "debit." It will be more difficult for scammers to make unauthorized purchases without your PIN.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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