Paying for gasoline at the pump may be convenient, but it can also be risky. Just a few days before Christmas, two customers of a local convenience store reported being victims of someone using a credit card skimmer.
While the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office posted a warning in its Facebook page, Capt. Todd Hutchens said no actual skimmer was found at the Zip-N-Go station on Hwy. 67 in Denmark, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.
People who use card skimmers to steal credit and debit card information -and subsequently, people’s money –install them, collect information and remove them, according to Internet website www.pcmag.com.
Hutchens said at least two people reported their accounts being illegally accessed after using the pay-at-the-pump option at the Zip – N- Go. Anyone who frequents that station, especially Dec. 22, is encouraged to check their accounts, he said.
The victims may not have been targeted by an actual card skimmer attached to the pump, he said. The information could have been picked up by a remote skimmer held by someone close by.
To be safe, the best option is to “pay cash,” he said. But if one must use a credit or debit card, taking the extra steps to go inside will be safer, Hutchens said. “But even then is not 100 percent.” Dishonest clerks or people with remote skimmers can use them inside as well.
Information from www.pcmag.com said “Skimmers are essentially malicious card readers that grab the data off the card's magnetic stripe attached to the real payment terminals so that they can harvest data from every person that swipes their cards.”
The thieves must return to the machine to “pick up the file containing all the stolen data, but with that information in hand he can create cloned cards or just break into bank accounts to steal money.”
The typical ATM skimmer is a device smaller than a deck of cards that fits over the existing card reader. Sometimes a hidden camera with a view of the number pad is used to record personal-identification-numbers, or PINs, according to the site.
Advice to help avoid being targeted includes checking ATMS and card readers for tampering, loose parts or suspicious appearance, and cover your hand while keying in your PIN.
Hutchens said anyone who suspects having been victimized by someone using a card skimmer should contact the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 764-8888.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.