April 18, 2023- Card skimmers, everyone’s financial nightmare, are finding their way across Texas slowly stealing thousands of dollars from hundreds of people. Skimmers are illegal card readers that collect credit/debit card data so criminals can steal account information, taking data right from a card’s magnetic stripe. It is a way scammers covertly steal information, as most people don’t know their data was stolen until the card is already being used by someone else.
There are several different types of card skimmers. According to the FBI, fuel pump skimmers are typically attached in the internal wiring of the machine and aren’t easily visible. These devices usually store the card information to be downloaded or transferred later on.
Skimmers can also be put on ATMs by fitting them over the original card reader, placing them in the terminal or situated among exposed cables. They may use keypad overlays to get customer’s PIN numbers.
Always double check the seals along the pump, usually located on the car reader and top of the pump, to see if the seal is broken or reads “VOID” as this means the pump may have been opened and tampered with. Also look for surfaces that may protrude up or warp, as card skimmers are usually not flush with the pumps door panel and could be a warning sign of potential skimmers warns the Federal Trade Commission.
Officials at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation offer the following tips to protect yourself at the pump:
- Go to a station that appears to be well-lit and appears to have security cameras.
- Pay for your gas inside the station using cash.
- If you opt to pay with a card inside the store or outside at the pump, pay with a store’s mobile app or use a credit card or choose the option for credit, NEVER use a debit card.
- If you have to use your debit card, be sure to choose “credit” and never provide your PIN. Crooks could drain your bank account before you even know what’s happening.
- Choose a pump close to the building, one that’s in the clerk’s line of sight.
- If you have to use a code like a PIN-number, be sure to cover the keypad with your other hand to hide your code from prying eyes.
- Monitor your credit card statement for unauthorized purchases and report them immediately to your credit card company.