It only takes seconds for a criminal to install a credit/debit card skimming device on a fuel dispenser, giving them instant access to future customers' financial information.
Inspectors from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Weights and Measures Bureau have recently become aware of skimmers in gas dispensers at stations throughout Wisconsin. DATCP advises consumers to keep a close eye on their card statements and on the pumps they use to fill their vehicles.
Skimmers take one of two forms at gas dispensers:
- external devices — false card readers that fit over actual card reader on the pump
- internal devices — typically a communications cable with an in-line recording device that is run between the card reader and main board
"A consumer may likely have no indication that they used an altered dispenser until they find a discrepancy on their bank statements," said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection.
"The best defense against card skimmer theft is a strong offense, so we strongly encourage shoppers to pay close attention to their monthly statements and to regularly check their credit reports," said Frassetto. "Report any potential skimmer-related fraudulent activity to the financial institution and to the station where the transaction occurred."
While at the pump, consumers can protect themselves by:
- lightly wiggling the card reader on the pump. External skimmers may feel loose and come off.
- looking to see if any security seals have been broken on the dispenser cabinet. If you see any signs of tampering, tool marks or loose card readers, tell the store manager and do not use that pump.
For more information or to report possible skimmers, contact DATCP's Weights and Measures team at 608-224-4942 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A fact sheet on card skimmers is available on the DATCP website.