Local police are warning the public of a distraction-based scam targeting elderly people in Waterloo Region.

Since January, police have received six reports of 'shoulder surfing.' That’s when someone looks over your shoulder while you use a bank or credit card to learn your PIN.

Once your PIN has been learned, they or someone they’re working with will distract you to take your card. Common distractions include telling a target that their car is damaged or their tire is flat, or that they have dropped money on the ground.

Most reported instances began in stores, when someone spied over the unknowing victim’s shoulder to get their PIN at the terminal.

Police say one victim was approached outside the store and distracted before having their wallet stolen.

While anyone can fall victim to such a scam, police warn that suspects usually target the elderly.

To protect yourself, police recommend that you shield your PIN when entering it at a store or an ATM, keeping personal items in eyesight and to report suspicious activity to police.