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Skimmer found inside of a gas pump
Skimmer found inside of a gas pump

County Weights and Measures Inspectors Protect Credit/Debit Card Users from Skimmer Fraud July 2020

Author: David Aguayo: Deputy Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer
Date: 7/30/2020 10:08:48 AM

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 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.
Recent inspections resulted in the discovery of 16 skimming devices at three separate gas stations. Local law enforcement agencies responded, and the devices were removed as evidence. These devices were 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. Weights and measures inspectors continued a sweep of selected gas stations throughout the county, no additional skimmers were discovered.

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 www.SLOCounty.ca.gov/AgCommWM.