I-Team: Swiped

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's a problem costing the financial industry worldwide nearly $350,000 a day: stolen credit and debit card numbers, and thieves are targeting people at the pump.

Now, there's evidence it's happening in Baton Rouge using a device called a skimmer.

The skimmer was found at the Raceway gas station on Bluebonnet Blvd. in front of the Mall of Louisiana.  Authorities said location was key because of the clientele the gas station attracts.

Even though this is the first known case in Louisiana, agents said people need to be cautious.

Secret Service Agent Luis Velez said someone has been skimming customers at the Raceway gas station for at least two weeks.

"The business was doing self-maintenance.  They saw something that was irregular.  They contacted their service company.  They came out, and verified it," said Velez.

They verified a skimmer was on one of the pumps.  The device was removed Tuesday.

The process works by swiping a credit card.  The skimmer then reads and stores the credit card number and that's just the beginning.

"Once you capture these numbers, you then either A, you're going to use them yourself through re-encoded credit cards or you're going to sell it on the internet," said Velez.

As the 9 News I-team showed you last November, those stolen numbers are bought through the virtual world.  Thieves take blank cards and imprint the stolen information, making new cards.  They can also doctor existing credit or debit cards by replacing the black magnetic strip with the stolen information.  So now, when a register runs that card, the account number does not match the info on the front of the swiped card, but your account is the one getting charged.

Cathy Louis of Baton Rouge fell victim to this very problem.  Her credit card was swiped at a Best Buy 1,300 miles away in Minnesota, a place she's never even been to.

"How does someone get my name, my card number?" asked Louis.

If you use a credit, debit or ATM card, you are at risk because skimmers are not only limited to gas stations.  They can be placed on ATM's, parking meters or basically any card reader.

Some ways to protect yourself:

  • Take your receipt with you
  • If the card reader is loose, that should tip you off
  • Cover the keypad when putting in your pin
  • Check your account often to make sure you recognize all the charges

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