Skimmer Scams on the Rise – Be Cautious While Paying at the Pump

Left: Normal Card Reader        Right: Skimmer

With an increase in skimming devices being discovered at gas stations this year, AAA warns drivers to be extra cautious about paying at the pump. Unfortunately, this could happen to anybody; AAA Public Affairs Manager Greg Seiter had his card skimmed at a gas station on the south side of Indianapolis just a few weeks ago.

Credit card skimmers are devices that attach to credit card slots and steal your information. Skimmers will sometimes just look like the slot itself so AAA advises customers to jiggle the slot to see if it is askew or asymmetrical in any way.

If you have the option, AAA recommends paying for gas inside the store and using cash rather than your credit card. However, since most people are on the go and rarely carry cash anymore, the motor club also provided the following tips to keep your bank account secure.

Park your car as close to the building as possible. Criminals with skimmers tend to pick pumps further away to avoid being caught by clerks. Keep an eye out for any individuals who appear to be unnecessarily lingering around the gas pump area. Sometimes they may even be pretending to put gas into their own vehicle so be extra alert of untrustworthy activity.

If your phone has Bluetooth scanning capabilities, you can turn on your Bluetooth to check for skimmers embedded in the pumps. If a random series of numbers and letters pops up it could be a telltale sign that a skimmer has been inserted into the gas kiosk. DO NOT connect to the Bluetooth device and immediately notify a gas station attendant of your concern.

Inspect the gas station pump for any sign of tampering. Be sure the gas pump panel is closed and the security tape is still sealed. Check the card reader for any attachments or suspicious qualities. If you feel uncertain about whether a skimmer could be present, do not use that pump and alert the cashier.

Lastly, keep an eye on your bank account as often as you can. Skimmers may wait months to utilize your stolen information and then suddenly go on a spending spree. If you have any concerns that your account may have been compromised, contact your bank immediately.