On The Labor Day Commute Home? Be Careful Where You Fill Up, Warns Secret Service


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Neetu Chandak Education and Politics Reporter
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The U.S. Secret Service is attempting to take down those who attempt to steal credit card information at gas stations in a nationwide initiative targeting skimming, which will span 17 states over Labor Day weekend.

Credit card skimming is the act of electronically stealing encoded information on credit cards, which is then used to commit fraud. Criminals place small devices — skimmers — on the gas pump paying device, according to a Secret Service report Thursday.

About 15 percent of Americans said they’ve fallen victim to skimming since Aug. 1, according to a CompareCards poll, reported Newsday on Saturday.

Gas stations are ideal for skimming because criminals can go undetected since there is little to no supervision at the pumps, Secret Service reported.

A single tampered pump can receive credit card data from 30 to 100 cards, according to the National Association for Convenience Stores.

Arizona had 78 skimmers in 2018, up from 56 skimmers in 2017, according to ABC 15.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests gas pump users check for unusual attachments to credit card readers, according to a 2017 FTC post. Users should report to a worker if the card reader is loose or moves.

It’s helpful to check and see if the gas pump cabinet panel is closed, as many stations will put security tape to discourage tampering. (RELATED: Officials Seize 500 Fake Driver’s Licenses That Would Have Gone To College Students)

Users should conceal their hands when entering the personal identification number (PIN), as criminals can place small cameras above the keypad to record entries. It is also recommended for those who use debit cards to run them as credit cards to protect the PIN.

Secret Service recommended that travelers use pumps in well-lit areas and pay for gas with an attendant.

More than 80 skimmers were found during the Memorial Day weekend while 70 were recovered during the Independence Day weekend, according to the Secret Service.

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