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Public Service Announcement – Credit Card Skimmers

Since the dawn of time, people have exchanged goods or services for other goods or services.  And – unfortunately, since the dawn of time, there has always been somebody trying to take from that exchange what they didn’t earn.  It seems officials find a way to stop one method of theft only to have the thieves come up with new ideas and new ways to steal.

Recently, Florida officials have announced that they have found more than 103 credit cards skimmers at gas stations throughout the state.  Unfortunately, at least six of those have been found in gas stations operating in Brevard County, including several here in Melbourne.  A complete list of compromised locations can be found here.

Official are investigating and to date, there has not been word on the identity or arrests of the thieves. However, the skimmers have been removed and many gas stations are alerting their customers.

This is not the first time that gas station skimmers have been used to capture your credit card information and steal your money and it won’t be the last.  That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes open and remember some helpful tips to reduce the likelihood that you could be a target.

1) Use credit cards or cash for all gas station purchases.  When a thief steals your debit card number, they have direct access to your bank account. This means they can steal your rent money and grocery money and leave you with nothing.  It’s much easier to dispute charges when they have been applied to your credit card as opposed to your debit card.

2) If you do use a debit card, be sure to use the credit option so you don’t type in your PIN number. Most thieves love debit cards, but only if they come with the PIN number.  They wait a month or two, clone the card and then start withdrawing cash from the ATM.

3) Use pumps closer to the front of the store. Thieves prefer to add the skimmer in locations where they might not be easily seen, which means they target pumps further away from traffic or outside of view of the front entrance.

4) Make sure the credit card slot on the pump looks like it’s securely fastened to the pump. Many pumps have security tape over the edge of the credit card “cabinet” so that it’s easy to see if anyone has opened it recently.  Try to wiggle the equipment.  Real credit slots are securely fastened and usually don’t wiggle easily.  Skimmers often do wiggle easily as they are put in as quickly as possible.  If anything looks tampered with or looks different from other pumps– different colors, different fonts, pieces that don’t seem to fit well, simply don’t use that pump or pay with cash.

Monitor your credit and debit statements carefully.  You must report any suspected theft immediately in order to get the maximum amount of protection.

14 Jun

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