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 Card Skimmers at Gas Pumps in the US

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Morgain Le Fay
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:47 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Recently I had my checking account cleaned out one weekend. As I am always very careful with my credit/debit card from the credit union, I was at a loss as to how this could have happened.

Charges were made on my account in 17 different states!

Working with my credit union and submitting an ic3.gov report the credit union restored all my funds.

However, we have since discovered that at many gas stations thieves are putting card reading "skimmers" on the gasoline pumps. They thieves can capture your account information from those skimmers and clean out your accounts.

This is fast becoming problematic in our area. The police have said the best way to prevent this is going into the gas station office and giving them your card.

This is not an option for me because I don't like to let the card out of my sight at this point and at restaurants will accompany the wait person to their register and watch them scan my card. Some restaurant servers have been found to use a skimmer on their Android phone and capture your information and then running the card through their register for your meal.

These thieves are also skimming gift cards which are located near cash registers at stores. The unsuspecting buyer gets the card validated when you pay for it, but may find there is no money on the card. If you take your receipt and the card back to the store where it was purchased you can get a refund.

For gift cards, it is recommended that if you are buying them to take the gift cards toward the back of the display as the cards in the front may have been scanned.

It has also been found in our area that these skimming readers have been found on ATM machines that are not located inside the bank or credit union.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

This form of high tech fraud is becoming increasingly common. A grocery chain in California was recently hit; thieves mounted skimmers onto self-checkout card readers and compromised hundreds of accounts.

News article here.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:43 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I was involved in a long running bank lawsuit against Bank of America when they refused to help me recover several thousand stolen from me. They said that the charges came from my card and therefore I must have been the one to do it. I wonder if I was hit with a card skimmer?

Well, many retainer fees later, I still never got my money back, and the time limit has come and gone, so I do my part to prevent others from falling victim to such crimes, and scams on top of that.

I shall warn my friends and family that this is become more common and to be careful. Thanks Morgan for giving a heads up, and sorry you had to experience it.

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Morgain Le Fay
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ Sorry to hear about your loss, crotcheecher .

Some years back Mr. Le Fay had over $30K taken from his account over in NOLA. The Secret Service got involved and all but about $600 was recovered. Because he was not really careful when he would get his card out, it was thought that someone may have used a cell phone to take a pic of his card and passed those numbers onto a gang that had embossing machines, etc. and later sold the cards on the internet for about $10-15/each.

The Secret Service told us at that time to never use our debit/credit card from the bank/credit union as a "debit" card but always use it as a "credit" card because it is easier to recover the funds.

In his case there were charges of about $3K made on the same day in three cities some distance from each other at Wal-Mart stores (Houston TX, Jacksonville FL and Oklahoma City, OK). These were not online purchases but at POS, so they knew Mr. Le Fay could not have been in those cities on the same day at roughly the same hour.

Another thing I have done over the years is when using an ATM, if anyone is lurking around even if they are going to use the ATM, if I have not yet used it, I "change my mind" and go back to my vehicle as if I am leaving. After they conduct their business and no one is around, I will then use the machine. I feel this is a safe guard against my being robbed and/or someone trying to figure out my PIN number. Lately though I rarely use the ATM machines and trying to just go to the c.u. for cash.

Last week a thief went back to collect his skimming machine at a local gas station and the police were waiting and nabbed him.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:07 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Yea, that's roughly in the figures I lost. But I was dumb and believe the bank when they said FBI and whatnot wouldn't help, so I just went the lawyer route with a simple police report. I'm much smarter now.I now use several bank account and split money across them, as well as keeping much of it outside of the banks. When I do have money that is. Right now Im a bit broke....
Glad ya'll could recover most of your money though!

Smart decision on the ATM tactic. I never used ATMs unless I really HAVE to, other wise I jsut walk into my bank. It takes longer, but I feel it's more secure, what with bank security and if something does go wrong around that time, the suspect is usually the teller.

I hope the nabbed guy gets many many years in prison. If he wanted money, I'm sure there's more honest ways he could have gone about it.

Thieves. I can't stand them.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:13 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

It has been quite some time since I read about the ATM part of this but never really connected the possibility to gas pumps, self-checkouts or even the POS equipment. It's great to see this getting some attention again.


Thank you Morgain!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:33 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I only have a savings acct myself, won't use ATM again unless I get to a point in my life where I need to. I do have a re-loadable VISA card in case I need to do online purchases.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:32 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Around here the bad guys are slowly abandoning skimming (most banks have retrofitted their ATMs with card slots that make it much harder to fit a skimmer) and using a technique called 'cash trapping' - basically, put something sticky inside the slot where the cash comes out. Customers will think that the ATM is broken when no money comes out, and later the thief just has to grab the hidden cash stuck behind the slot.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:57 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Skimmers aren't just found on ATM's and gas pumps. I had it happen to me but the skimmer was in the pocket of the waitress at a local restaurant. The police were finally able to catch them (it turned out to be five of the servers at this one restaurant) when VISA had a number of cards with fraudulent activity and all of the cards had been used at one particular restaurant. Now I pay cash everywhere or use a prepaid VISA so that even if they steal the information, they won't get much money.

The thing I can't figure out is what company makes these 'skimmer' devices and...why? I can't think of any legitimate use for this bit of technology.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:21 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^I agree, who makes them and why?


When it happened around here, the advice was to wiggle / jiggle your card as you insert it into the machine as that likely will dislodge any illicit device in the machine.

I have used an ATM probably 5 times in my life.

The police caught some of the crooks here in the same way Morgain described. They have to retrieve the device some time... Evil or Very Mad

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:42 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
The thing I can't figure out is what company makes these 'skimmer' devices and...why? I can't think of any legitimate use for this bit of technology.


I would have thought criminals would simply strip down and adapt existing card readers which are used for a whole host of legitimate purposes - hotel key cards, access control etc.

I do know you can buy USB card readers, but again, the argument would be it's convenient for hotels etc. where the equipment might need moved around a bit.

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Morgain Le Fay
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:17 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I have seen the card readers that you attach to an Android phone for on-the-go- businessmen. I don't think the manufacturers thought the on-the-go-business man would be a thief!

Skimming: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_card_fraud

You can also google card skimmers for some images of what they look like. The card skimmers don't always look like homemade jobs, so that begs the question who makes this card skimmers/readers that the ordinary thieving people buy.

@OrangeCat I mentioned that also. Some "servers" in a high end restaurant in New York would take the customer's card to the cash register but before sliding it through for the dinner charges, they used an Android phone with a card reader on it to get the customer's information. Being a high end restaurant they figured there would be a very high credit limit and the customer might not notice.

In another area of New York, the police busted a gang doing business in an apartment and the PD found card embossers, blank credit cards and other assorted stuff to make cards once they captured the victim's information.

^^ This begs the question: Where does one buy blank credit cards, the special embosser, etc. Did they have someone on the inside that knew how to find that stuff?

Belay that above question. A quick google search found the blank credit cards and the special embossing machines.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:51 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I always pay cash when getting gas and groceries. I go to the bank's ATM when I withdraw money, and I never use my debit card for purchases.

Besides wiggling the card in the slot to see if there is a skimmer in it, I've also heard to look for the green lights that are on the ATM card slot. If it's not lit up, then don't use it.

@Morgain: Our local TV had a story on those gift cards, which goes into more detail:

http://www.9wsyr.com/news/local/story/Senator-Warns-of-Gift-Card-Scam/4QS1_pU_PEeT3Q9UaQ4BUw.cspx

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Morgain Le Fay
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:34 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ Would jiggling the credit card allow the information to be taken or is the information taken when you actually use the card for a withdrawal?

Could I just jiggle my library card (which is the size of a cc) first do you think?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:42 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^I think the information is taken when you actually punch in your PIN and use the card, but am not sure.

Jiggling the card hopefully will dislodge any skimmers that might be in the slot. But not always.

I always use my bank's ATM (usually drive-thru). I feel safe at bank ATMs because they have cameras and if anyone were to install a skimmer device, it would show up on the video. I hope they review the video on a daily basis...

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:45 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I saw a segment by Clark Howard this morning. He said use CC's because it's easier to recover your money. If it's a debit card you have to fight with the individual bank or credit union to get your money restored.

Al.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ That is what the Secret Service told us. To use it as a credit card.

Another Clark Howard listener! Laughing

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:55 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Great minds (and Michiganders (Or is that Michiganians?)) think alike.

I don't watch him a lot but like what he's trying to do. There are definately people out there that need money answers.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:09 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

The bank where we have our primary credit card sends us an email immediately when the cc is used. Many banks offer this service which will allow you to cancel any further transactions if necessary.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:26 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Today when buying gasoline I did not want to use my card at the pump nor did I want to leave my card inside with the clerk.

MY SOLUTION: I gave the clerk $20 cash and told her that I would return to pay with my card but I did not want to have my card out of my sight.

She completely understood and told me to pump whatever amount I needed even if it went over $20 that she would not shut off the pump. She saw which car was mine and at $2.94/gal knew it could only maybe go over $5.

Yesterday we went out to eat. When the waiter came for the card, I said that I did not like my card out of my possession and I would accompany her to the register. She understood.

Both women told me that more and more people are doing as I did in the above two scenarios.

BTW, they caught another thief trying to retrieve his skimmer from a gas pump. The police captured him. That is 2 down that I have heard of in our community.

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