New style credit card skimmers appearing here

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Credit card skimmers are becoming more sophisticated and that is going to call for consumer vigilance, according to the Marble Falls Police Department (MFPD).

Police say a skimmer was found Tuesday, April 24, inside a pump at the Kwik Chek Exxon, 1003 Ranch to Market Road 1431 in Marble Falls.

“We have been asking people to look on the outside for skimmers installed there before they pay with a card, but the last two or three discovered in this area have been inside the pumps,” said MFPD Capt. Glenn Hanson. “Sometimes pumps are accessed by a key and the thieves may be coming up with a master key,” he said. “We don't know yet how much time it takes to install one, but it must be quickly and discretely.”

Hanson said to combat the problem the department has been urging gas stations and convenience stores to check their pumps regularly.

“That is how this one was found in Pump 6, the one furtherest toward the street at the Exxon; they check weekly,” he said. “Skimmers like this are placed inline, like a password. The information goes right through as it should, but the other device captures the credit card information, too.

“At least one customer at the pump reported a fraudulent use we understand, although that is still unconfirmed.”

Reporting unauthorized use or the discovery of a skimmer is important. The MFPD is working with the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab where an electronic trail, actual fingerprints or even trace DNA may be discovered.

The best protection for the consumer, Hanson recommends, is to check credit card records daily.

“Especially with a debit card, I check mine every day,” he said. “My wife and I and people we know have been compromised.

“The first time it happened to me, it was just a five cent charge. I called the bank and they closed the card right away. They said that is what the thieves do--just make a minimal charge as quick check. If that goes through they start larger charges.”

This does not happen only with the physical use of the card, according to Hansen.

“My wife's latest online purchase was for my birthday present,” he said. “Within an hour the card number was being used to buy shoes in Philadelphia.

“Diligence is just going to be the price we pay for convenience.”

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