Woman alleges scammer tried taking $100 from debit card after pumping gas; BBB warns of ‘shimming’

ALERT TEAM: Be on the lookout for card skimmers at gas stations ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - WAFB’s 9News Alert Team has a warning for drivers ahead of the Thanksgiving travel rush. This comes after a viewer contacted the station, believing a scammer tried to spend hundreds of dollars using her debit card’s information immediately after she filled her car up with gas.

“She [bank operator] said the immediacy between my use and the subsequent approval attempt to withdraw, indicated to them [her bank] that it was probably a skimmer,” said Pam, a Baton Rouge resident.

Pam says just a days ago when she was at a gas station on Perkins Road, she put her debit card in the pump to get about $15 worth of gas.

“So I used it as credit, put in my zip code, and put in my gas. According to the bank, within 30 seconds someone attempted to use my card to deduct $100 from my account,” said Pam.

Pam was lucky though. She got a fraud alert from her bank and was able to stop the transaction in its tracks.

This is a screenshot of the fraud alert Pam got from her bank right after she paid for her $15 worth of gas at a gas station on Perkins Road.
This is a screenshot of the fraud alert Pam got from her bank right after she paid for her $15 worth of gas at a gas station on Perkins Road. (Source: WAFB)

“It’s just a feeling of personal invasion. Like oh my gosh, now they know my personal information,” she said.

“Some of these scammers are not just for the money. They like it for the thrill of the kill. They basically want to be able to know that they took advantage of one more person,” said Carmen Million with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

She says one of the scams in the past was called “skimming,” which involves those bulky readers on ATMs or at gas stations when you pay with a card.

But with the new chips on credit cards, thieves have gotten more high tech and harder to detect.

“So the scammers have come up with a new technique and they call it ‘shimming,'” said Million. “And basically it’s a very thin item that they put in, they slip in the ATM or gas station pump, and when you run your credit card, it automatically takes all of your information."

These are the new, smaller ‘skimming' devices Million says are harder to detect than the normal, bulkier skimmers.
These are the new, smaller ‘skimming' devices Million says are harder to detect than the normal, bulkier skimmers. (Source: CBS 46)

The ‘shimming’ devices are very sophisticated and hard to see.

“Really pay attention. If you try to put your card in and there’s some resistance, that may be a sign. If your card gets stuck in the machine, that may be a sign,” said Million.

The BBB has some tips when you’re at the pump to protect yourself from these scammers.

“Your best case scenario is either to pay cash or use a credit card, and that way if there’s something charged to your credit card, you can dispute it and it’s much easier, whereas if you use your debit card, usually they draw the money out immediately,” said Million.

The BBB also recommends communicating with your bank; if there’s a charge on your credit or debit card, you can get a notification about it. Also, make sure you pump your gas at a gas station with lots of lighting, or just go inside to pay.

These scammers are extremely smart, and getting peskier every day.

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