Police and state officials asking for help to fight these crimes
Prevention tips offered
A rash of skimmer devices meant to secretly swipe credit and debit card information are being by thieves on ATM, gas pumps and other credit card machines throughout Texas. Agriculture commissioner Sid Miller is alerting Texans about the increase in these crimes and soliciting citizens to report any occurrences found in more than 400,000 fuel pumps in the state.
On Wednesday, August 9, 2017, (Case #1702060), The Kerrville Police Department released photos of two male subjects believed to have installed a skimmer device at a local ATM on June 23. They are requesting the public’s help.
“It is suspected these subjects may also be attaching devices in San Antonio and surrounding areas as well. If you can identify these subjects, contact Kerr County Crime Stoppers at 896-TIPS (8477). Please refer to the case number when calling,” a release from the Kerrville Police Department stated. Similar alerts have been released in Tyler, Katy, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Van and other communities throughout the state in recent days.
Thieves are placing these skimmers on to the mouth of ATM or gas pump to covertly gather card information when bank or gas station customers slip their cards into the machines to pull out money or pump gas. These skimmers read 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 thief has to come back to the compromised machine to pick up the file containing all the stolen data, but with that information in hand he/she can create cloned cards or just break into bank accounts to steal money. A big concerns is that some skimmers don’t prevent the ATM or credit card reader from functioning properly.
“A lot of these skimmers use Bluetooth technology that will have a long string of letters or numbers. It won’t say ear phones or car audio,” Agriculture commissioner Miller said. Some skimmers are extremely sophisticated, incorporating features such the ability to send an SMS text message to the thieves’ mobile phone whenever a new card is swiped.
Officials suggest to look for security stickers at the pump. Some gas stations have attached stickers that say “’We care’ official security seal” over the pumps near the credit card machines. If the seal on those stickers is broken, the word “void” appears underneath, indicating the pump has been tampered with. If seen, customers should notify the gas station and not use the pump.
Commissioner Miller is asking Texans to be on alert and report any problems they find at the state’s more than 400,000 fuel pumps.
- Avoid the outer gas pumps. Pick a pump in view of the clerk
- Never use a debit card when you pay for gas. In fact, if you can, pay in cash
- If you can’t pay in cash, check your credit card statements daily
- Scan for Bluetooth devices when you go to the pump. If you see anything with a long number, don’t use that pump and notify the gas company or the state
- Check for tampering
- If you’re at the bank, it’s a good idea to quickly take a look at the ATM next to yours and compare them both. If there are any obvious differences, don’t use either one, and report the suspicious tampering to your bank.
- If the keyboard doesn’t feel right or too thick, there could be a PIN-snatching overlay. Do not use it and report it.
- Wiggle everything. ATMs are solidly constructed and generally don’t have any jiggling or loose parts. Credit card readers have more variation, but still: Pull at protruding parts like the card reader. See if the keyboard is securely attached and just one piece. Does anything move when you push at it?
The chances of getting hit by a skimmer are higher on the weekend than during the week, since it’s harder for customers to report the suspicious ATMs to the bank. Criminals typically install skimmers on Saturdays or Sundays, and then remove them before the banks reopen on Monday.
U.S. Secret Service estimates that annual losses from ATM fraud totaled over $1 billion in last year, or about $400,000 each day. Card skimming accounts for more than 80 percent of ATM fraud.