Authorities Warn of 'Skimming' Crime Wave at Gas Stations

Hidden devices that scan your credit card information can go undetected.

ByABC News
October 19, 2016, 9:36 AM

— -- Authorities are warning consumers about a new scam to steal their money -- this time at the gas pump.

Criminals known as "skimmers" are installing devices that give them access to a driver's bank and credit information.

"They can breach the gas pump and install them and they can be there for weeks or months without being discovered," Chris Gagne, of the U.S. Secret Service Criminal Investigation Division, told ABC News.

While authorities recently alerted drivers about another kind of predator at the pump known as "sliders," thieves who slip inside open cars and steal a victims valuables while filing up their tank, law enforcement officials say skimmers are even tougher to spot.

Gagne said his agency has noticed a "considerable increase" in credit card skimming.

One suspect was caught on surveillance footage breaking into a gas pump where he had installed a device to steal, or skim, credit card information off the magnetic strip.

It is impossible to tell just by looking at a gas pump if a device could be secretly recording your data. Some skimmers are so high-tech they immediately send out stolen information over Bluetooth.

Security officials recommend that drivers pay for their gas inside the station. They also suggest choosing a gas pump close to the attendant, because thieves normally set up the skimming devices out of sight. Monitoring your bank account frequently for fraudulent activity is another important habit to ward off suspicious charges.

Authorities are now training gas stations on how to detect skimming devices.