BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than 800 credit card numbers were contained on 25 skimming devices found on Baton Rouge area gas pumps, according to a task force comprised of area sheriff's offices, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, and the U.S. Secret Service.
Traditionally, credit card skimmers are devices criminals attach to credit card readers commonly found at gas pumps and ATMs. As the victim slides their card through the device, the skimmer will store information like credit card numbers to be illegally used at a later time.
Skimming devices are typically easily recognized when the gas pump credit card machines are opened, because they are an additional attachment to the machine. However, the LDAF says a new type of device is replacing the entire credit card reader making detection much harder.
"We're now seeing skimming devices that have Bluetooth capability," says LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain. "This tells us these crooks are getting more and more tech savvy making it easier to access the consumer's personal information," said Strain.
"As we hear more and more about this type of crime, our inspectors are removing anything suspect from the gasoline pumps," says Strain. "Convenience stores are also aware we are out there looking and are alerting the LDAF and their local authorities when they believe something is wrong."
In order to reduce the effectiveness of skimming devices, the LDAF offers these tips to keep consumers safe:
- Whenever possible, do not use your debit card function at the gas pump. Use it as a credit card.
- Monitor your debit/credit card activity online and contact your bank to report unrecognized charges.
- Whenever using a credit card, try to use a pump that is easily seen by gas station employees. Pumps that are less visible are commonly targeted because crooks can easily install a skimmer which normally takes very little time.
Authorities say they have found skimming devices in Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Jackson, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, St Martin, St. Mary, Tangipahoa and Vermilion parishes.
Once these skimming devices are analyzed, the Secret Service contacts all financial institutions to help secure the victim's data.