Weather Alerts 6 View »

Credit Card Numbers Stolen at Gas Pumps

Credit Card Numbers Stolen at Gas Pumps

By Jake Wasikowski. CREATED Jan 31, 2013

Part of your weekly routine maybe putting your information at risk, criminals are getting credit card numbers at gas pumps.

Thieves open the machines and install a second credit card reader inside, so there's really no way for customers to detect them.  KMTV Action 3 News got an up close look at these devices and how they work.

Authorities have confiscated 4 skimming devices they found inside gas pumps at 3 northwest Omaha gas stations, which have not been identified.  The skimmers steal your credit card numbers before the transaction is completed.  Criminals broke into the machines and could be storing hundreds of credit card numbers.

"Once they get in the case it takes maybe 10 or 15 seconds to connect and disconnect and lock the case back up, so they can do it while they're pumping gas in their vehicle,” said John Gutsmiedl, the Resident Agent in Charge for the U.S. Secret Service in Omaha. "The customer will never know it's there.  These are much more difficult to spot than the ones that are external and go right over the top."

The U.S. Secret Service says there's no proof yet the card numbers were being used, but they would likely be sold on illegal websites.  The Douglas County Sheriff's office says they're getting calls from people who say they've been scammed.

"Now that the public knows that they're vulnerable in this way we've been getting a number of phone calls saying that I’ve been victimized," said Chief Deputy Marty Bilek with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

The U.S. Secret Service and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is following up on leads to find out who may be behind these skimmers.  Authorities say the criminals may have installed them while crossing the country because these devices are normally seen in big cities in each coast.

If you’re worried about being scammed, authorities say pay for gas inside the convenience store with cash or credit.  Also, check your bank and credit card statements frequently, and report suspicious charges immediately because it can help track down skimming devices quicker.