Credit card skimmers on the rise in Pensacola: Buyers beware

Claudia Carlson

Staff Writer

 

A recent hike in credit card skimmers around the Pensacola area has residents thinking twice before using their credit and debit cards at gas stations and even some restaurants.

In an age where technology is at its most advanced, there are more ways for criminals to get your personal information and credit cards today than ever before.

Skimming is a way for thieves to steal credit card information and use the stolen information for themselves. Skimming occurs most often wherever credit card payments are accepted – most frequently in bars, restaurants and gas stations.

Skimmers are notorious for being attached to gas station pumps due to the frequent use and no identification necessary.

“My credit card was once skimmed at a gas station,” said Don Lott, UWF alumnus. “There was an attachment over the credit card machine, but it didn’t look any different, so I didn’t notice. After getting charges on my card from Canada, I contacted my bank. I was fighting with Regions for three months about the fraudulent charges before I was able to get my money back.”

Credit card skimming is becoming easier to do and harder to trace. New technology can scan credit cards before you even hit the credit card machine. It can be hidden anywhere on someone, and the numbers can be scanned before the card is even swiped. “Skimming at restaurants also happens frequently, especially since customers often leave their credit card for the server to pick up, process, and return a few minutes later. In these cases, a portable card reader is perfect because it is small enough to fit in the server’s pockets or apron.” (PrivacySense.net reported on Jul. 14, 2015.)

“I first heard about skimmers in connection with gas pumps,” said Charlotte Gordon of Pensacola. “I thought that people would attach them to gas pumps, but I realize now that any credit card machine can be compromised. I had my credit card number taken at a local restaurant. I’m pretty sure it was from this particular restaurant because I know of nine other people who had it happen to them after eating at the same restaurant.”

When called for a comment on such reports, a server at the restaurant said she had no comment and would forward the call to a manager, but the call was disconnected.

Each report of fraudulent charges on a card leads to a police investigation into the activity. When Frank Patti III’s card was skimmed two weeks ago, his bank told him that a police investigation is being conducted with suspects in mind. A police officer for this case was unable to be located for comment.

To access a credit card skimmer, a person needs only to Google it, and links to websites where one is able to purchase a skimmer appear. The easy accessibility to such a machine may be an answer as to why there has been such an increase in credit card fraud lately.

Have you had your debit or credit card skimmed before? Tweet me your thoughts: @claudcarlson.

 

card

Shown is the difference in ATM machines when a skimmer is added. If you don’t know what to look for, you may not even be able to tell when a skimmer is attached. An ATM machine or gas station credit card machine should be flat, if it looks bulky or like there is anything attached, do not use the machine.
Photo courtesy of http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/

card reader

Above is an example of a “Proximity Card Reader,” aka credit card skimmer. It can be purchased online for only $187.
Photo courtesy of http://store.amgtime.com/hardware/