Planning to go on a road trip or just simply going out this Fourth of July holiday, and gas up along the way? Well, the Secret Service has a strong warning to the public to be extra vigilant when stopping by for a gas pump as fraudsters are targeting to steal people’s credit card information at gas stations.
The Secret Service reveals that scammers have been installing skimmers - those small devices placed inside the pumps which copy customers’ credit card data. Just over the past weekend, in fact, the Secret Service canvassed the country in search of said illegal devices and recovered 59 of them from 85 locations.
What is supposedly an easy and fast transaction of gassing up and paying via credit card can turn complex and extra problematic to customers who do not know any better. Matthew O’ Neill, assistant to the special agent in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division shared to media: “But what’s in reality happening is during the transmission process, a skimmer is acting in between where you put your card in and the point of sale terminal that’s transmitting the data to a financial institution and they’re stealing your payment card numbers.”
The swindlers are said to gain access into the machines by buying commercial keys that can open the pumps online, according to the news outlet.
Once the scammers gain access to a customer’s information, they can print fraudulent credit cards and use them to make purchases.
O’Neill explained: “They’re monetizing the stolen payment card data in multiple ways and the easiest way is they’ll take the stolen payment card number and
electronics, gift cards, stuff that they can fence on the gray market, the black market or the open market.”
Millions of dollars are being swiped each year from credit card information pilfered at the pump. It only takes a few minutes depending on the level of tradecraft that the fraudster has. O’ Neill says a sophisticated skimmer can even send credit card data through a Bluetooth device to another internet-connected device.”
It does not mean that with this scamming threat, however, customers can no longer pay with their credit cards when gassing up. They can but they are strongly advised to pay with their credit cards inside the gas station where they can view the transaction instead of merely handing their cards at the pump. It may take more effort to get down from the car, and walk inside the gas station but the effort is worth the security and safety from scams.