Two credit card skimmers were found at a Denmark area gas station this week, and Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown warns people to be careful when buying gasoline.
Two card skimmers, used to steal account information from debit and credit cards, were located on gas pumps at the Zip’N’Go convenience store on Highway 67 in the Denmark community, he said.
Employees of a company servicing the pumps discovered the skimmers and contacted the Sheriff’s Office.
Just before Christmas, two people reported being victims of someone who apparently used skimmers previously at the same store. No skimmer was found at that time, Brown said, but because the devices must be removed by the suspect in order to glean the information, by the time the victims found their accounts had been compromised, the skimmers could have been removed.
The devices found this week were “removed and will be turned over to appropriate authorities for forensic processing,” the sheriff said.
People who use card skimmers to steal credit and debit card information — and subsequently, people’s money — install them, collect the information and then remove them, according to www.pcmag.com.
“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,” according to the site.
The thieves must return to the machine to “pick up the file containing all the stolen data, but with that information in hand (they) 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 covering your hand while keying in your PIN.
Brown encourages people to report any suspicious activity on credit or debit card accounts that may “have come from being compromised by a skimmer.”
Investigators have contacted store managers and owners and asked they service gas pumps more frequently and contact the law enforcement agency in their jurisdiction if skimmers are found.
“There are many different types of skimming devices,” he said. “Some can be detected from the outside of the pumps, but since criminals have progressed in their knowledge and actions, they have developed devices that are much more difficult to detect.”
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.