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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) ---While Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers deal with hackers stealing personal data, consumers may opt to pay in cash.

But take caution. ATM machines have been fertile ground to steal personal data and access to your bank account.

In a WUSA9 consumer report, Lorie Briggs said her family's debit card was denied at the gas station.A call to the bank revealed the debit card had been skimmed at the ATM. Her bank account was zero.

Skimmers have three main methods of stealing information from your card at the ATM machine, according to the FBI.

1. There may be a hidden camera installed to record consumers punching in PIN numbers.

2. A skimming device is placed over the original ATM card reader. When you insert the card, the device steals your information that gives access to your bank account.

3. A keypad overlay may be installed directly on top of the original keypad, so your key strokes are recorded onto the fraudulent keypad.

Here's how to protect yourself from being skimmed at the ATM, according to the FBI:

1. Inspect the ATM before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.

2. When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.

3. If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers).

4. Be careful of ATM's in tourist areas. They are a popular target of skimmers.

5. If your card isn't returned after the transaction or after hitting "cancel," immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.

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