Credit card skimmers are devices placed inside a normal looking dispenser, but then steal private information, such as your debit card information, PIN and zip code, authorities say.
The skimmer is placed inside the dispenser, between the credit card reader and the register inside the station.
Oftentimes the only way you realize something is amiss is when charges begin appearing on your statement that you didn't authorize.
But there are ways to try to protect yourself.
- Avoid pumps at the end of gas stations. They're often too far for the store clerk to have a clear view of the pump.
- Leave your debit card in your wallet. It's all too easy for a thief to skim your debit card's magnetic strip. If they catch your pin number, you can bet your bank account is up for grabs.
- Have a look around the pump. Look for tampering, a loose credit card reader or a broken seal on the pump's cabinet.
- Another way way to check for skimmer devices is using your phone. Thieves often use Bluetooth technology to transmit card and pin information. Just turn on Bluetooth and search for a device. If you see a long string of numbers trying to connect, that's a bad sign.