BBB: Skimmer scams surge, precaution urged - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

BBB: Skimmer scams surge, precaution urged

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Millions of Americans are expected to travel in the coming days, giving criminals plenty of opportunities to fill out their own nefarious wish list.

According to the Better Business Bureau, there were nearly 2,500 reports of travel-related scams in the U.S. in 2017, including gas skimming operations, something that continues to be seen here in the Coastal Bend.

Skimmers are illegal card readers attached to gas pumps that take data from a card’s magnetic stripe. Criminals use the stolen data by either selling your information or using it to buy things online.

Identity thieves typically tamper with card readers in one of two ways:

  • Thieves may attach a card-reading device to the card slot at a gas pump. The device will scan and store the magnetic strip of each card that is inserted into the banking machine.
  • Thieves sometimes use tiny pinhole cameras placed above the keypad area to record PIN entries.

The BBB suggests taking a few extra steps to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of this crime:

Inspect the credit card reader.

  • Take a careful look at the card reader before swiping your card.
  • Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering.
  • Look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage.
  • If something appears out of the ordinary, pay inside or move to another gas pump.

Protect your PIN.

  • When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to protect your private PIN from any cameras in the vicinity.
  • Try to use a credit card, but if you must use a debit card, run it as credit instead of entering a PIN.

Monitor your statements.

  • Even the most careful person can still fall victim to skimmers, so it is important to keep a close eye on your accounts.
  • Look for suspicious charges and particularly the itemized breakdown of charges and debits.
  • Report any fraudulent activity to your financial institution as soon as you discover it.

Got a question for the BBB? Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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