Skimming attacks at gas pumps are an all too common occurrence these days it seems, and it will likely continue to be a problem in the future, even though most people now carry cards with EMV chips.
The Yuma Police Department has posted a 1:36 minute video to its Facebook page and YouTube channel with Sgt. Lori Franklin offering some safety tips on how to avoid being skimmed while fueling up.
Franklin explained that skimmers are electronic devices illegally installed inside of gas pumps in an attempt to steal a person’s credit or debit card information, and that they cannot be seen from the outside.
Once the thieves have that information, they can use it to create cloned cards or just break into bank accounts to steal money.
So what can someone do to protect themselves? Franklin said the easiest thing to do is to make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering. Also check the security seals over the cabinet panel. If the pump panel is opened, the label will read “void,” which means the machine has been tampered with.
“If any of these seals are broken, do not use the pump,” Franklin said. “Always be safe and protect your money.”
Franklin also said to never use a debit card when buying gas because it is directly linked to all the money in your account. Instead she suggested using a credit card, or to go inside and pay the attendant.
However, if you chose to use your debit card at a gas pump, run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN. That way, the PIN is safe and the money isn’t deducted immediately from your account.
Another suggestion Franklin makes is to always use a gas pump near the front of the store. Thieves typically target gas pumps that are harder for the attendant to see.
Perhaps the worst part is that skimmers often don’t prevent the card reader from functioning properly, making them harder to detect.
Franklin also said that in the past, thieves had to return to the fuel pump to retrieve their skimmers. That’s not always the case now.
Thieves have now begun to use Bluetooth technology to glean credit card or debit card information. The crime is called bluesnarfing or blue skimming, and the thieves can sit 100 yards away in their vehicle while credit and debit card information is transmitted to their laptop or smartphone.