Money & The Economy

Secret Service Attempts To Disrupt Credit Card Theft At Gas Stations For Labor Day Weekend


by Neetu Chandak

The U.S. Secret Service is attempting to take down those who attempt to steal credit card information at gas stations in a nationwide initiative targeting skimming, which will span 17 states over Labor Day weekend.

Credit card skimming is the act of electronically stealing encoded information on credit cards, which are then used to commit fraud. Criminals place small devices — skimmers — in the gas pump, according to a Secret Service report Thursday.

About 15 percent of Americans said they’ve fallen victim to skimming since Aug. 1, according to a CompareCards poll, reported Newsday on Saturday.

Gas stations are ideal for skimming because criminals can go undetected since there is little to no supervision at the pumps, Secret Service reported.

A single tampered pump can receive credit card data from 30 to 100 cards, according to the National Association for Convenience Stores.

Arizona had 78 skimmers in 2018, up from 56 skimmers in 2017, according to ABC 15 on Monday.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests gas pump users check for unusual attachments to credit card readers, according to a 2017 FTC post. Users should report to a worker if the card reader is loose or moves.

It’s helpful to check and see if the gas pump cabinet panel is closed, as many stations will put security tape to discourage tampering.

Users should conceal their hands when entering the personal identification number, as criminals can place small cameras above the keypad to record entries. It is also recommended for those who use debit cards to run them as credit cards to protect the PIN.

Secret Service recommended travelers to use pumps in well-lit areas and to pay for gas with an attendant.

More than 80 skimmers were found during the Memorial Day weekend while 70 were recovered during the Independence Day weekend, according to the Secret Service.

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