REGION—After a credit card skimmer was discovered on a gas pump near Marshall's Creek earlier this month, Pennsylvanians are reminded to be safe when swiping.
“Skimmers are malicious card readers often attached to an actual payment terminal that can gather data from a credit or debit card's magnetic stripe when inserted or swiped,” states a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DOBS).
Wayne County Sheriff Mark Steelman advised motorists pay attention to pre-pay pumps when fueling up.
Loose or unusually thick key pads and errant wires tend to be indicative of tampered pumps.
Steelman explained many gas stations have also taken to putting a high-visibility tape over their machines to alert customers of tampering. If the tape is broken, the pump has likely been modified.
“It's safer for your credit card to pay inside,” said Steelman.
DOBS notes that gas pumps are a prime target for skimmers.
“Skimmers can be placed externally over the real card reader or internally (harder to detect) if the thief has a key to get inside the machines,” states advisory material from DOBS, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, State Police and Offices of the Attorney General.
Customers should keep an eye out for:
• poorly lit pumps farthest from the station and closest to the street
• pumps with little or no video surveillance
• Pumps without tamper-resistant tape
• Out of date pump inspections.
Customers or pump inspectors who notice abnormal or loose card readers and broken or missing tamper-resistant tape are asked to report it to the state police.
Those who suspect they have become the victim of a skimmer or other types of credit card theft should notify their bank or credit card provider immediately.
Individuals can keep track of their credit score online at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Scam victims are also advised to call the Consumer Protection Hotline, 1-800-441-2555.
Police responding to such incidents are asked to report them to the Department of Agriculture Weights and Measures Hotline at 1-877-837-8007 or www.pda.pa.gov/WeightandMeasureComplaint/ and to the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC).
While pumps are a common target, consumers are advised to be on alert whenever they must input credit card information.
A DOBS press release advises choosing pumps or ATMs in well-lit areas which are clearly visible by tellers or station attendees.
Additionally, customers are advised to ensure no one watches as they input their pin number or other sensitive information and to check their credit card statements frequently.
—Information from a release was used in this story.