Gas Pump with Payment Pin Pad
Gas Pump with Payment Pin Pad

County Weights and Measures Inspectors Protect Credit/Debit Card Users from Skimmer Fraud

Author: Brenda Ouwerkerk / Chief Deputy Agricultural Commissioner
Date: Friday, January 12, 2018 8:35 AM

County Weights and Measures Inspectors find card skimmer devices in local gas pumps.


Credit card fraud has been detected in San Luis Obispo County.  While it is unknown just how widespread the problem is, Weights and Measures Inspectors from the San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture / Weights and Measures are stepping up routine surveillance at one point of interface between consumers and credit/debit card thieves – card skimming devices inside gasoline pumps at service stations throughout the county.

Card skimmers are hidden devices embedded inside gas pumps and are commonly spliced onto the credit card reader, allowing credit/debit card numbers and PIN numbers to be recorded during routine refueling and retrieved later or sent to an offsite receiver.  Usually there are no outwardly visible signs on the pumps giving away the presence of the insidious devices.  Inspectors must work closely with gas station operators to open the pumps to visually find the devices.   Once found they are removed and Inspectors notify local law enforcement officers for follow up investigations. 

During the 2017 Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holiday seasons Weights and Measures Inspectors completed the inspection of 204 gas pumps at 25 stations troughout the county.  Inspectors intercepted two skimming devices.  One device had the capability of capturing both card and PIN numbers. The other device was designed potentially to transfer card information using Bluetooth technology, allowing the transfer of card information without the need to open the gas pump to retrieve the device storing credit/debit card information.

Martin Settevendemie, Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer offers the following precautions to consumers to avoid credit card fraud: “pay cash for fuel purchases; consider running debit cards as credit which may offer greater protection if fraud occurs; use gas pumps closest to, or facing, service station buildings where station attendants are visible; watch for security stickers that appear broken or tampered with; report suspicious behavior to the station operator, such as the unlocking of gas pumps by someone not affiliated with the station.  Also, consumers should always carefully review credit/debit card company statements for suspicious charges.” 

For more information about the County’s Weights and Measures Program, visit the website at http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Agriculture-Weights-and-Measures.aspx