SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – The Department of Weights and Measures of the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner's Office issued a press release after finding a 'skimmer' device at a local gas station and finding residue potentially from other devices at gas stations in the area.
On Sep. 5, the Department of Weights and Measures' Consumer Protection Division was informed by a local gas station that a service agent removed an external keypad and card swipe skimmer in Buellton.
Skimmer devices can be installed internally or externally and come in many shapes and sizes, though most are installed internally detail the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner's Office.
These devices are installed to collect, or skim, credit and debit card information including PIN digits and ZIP codes. The image featured for this article shows just how difficult it can be to determine if a keypad is a skimming device.
According to the County Agricultural Commissioner's Office, the skimmers discovered at the Buellton gas station were installed externally and mimicked actual components of the machine.
The devices collected are shown below and effectively mimic gas pump machine components.
After receiving the initial call about the skimming device in Buellton, the Agrucultural Commissioner's Consumer Protection Division conducted a sweep of the surrounding area's gas stations.
The sweep revealed no additional skimmer devices, but adhesive residue on the PIN pad and card swipe readers discovered at other stations in the County could indicate that an overlay skimmer device was installed and removed relay the County's Agricultural Commissioner's Office.
One of the card swipe readers found during the sweep to have suspicious adhesive residue is pictured below.
The Agricultural Commissioner's Office Consumer Protection Division detail that these skimming devices are often installed at gas pumps furthest from the staff kiosk and/or where cameras are unlikely to be installed. The Division recommends consumers use a tap-to-pay card or physically enter the station to pay for their gas as a financially safer practice.
To report suspect equipment at filling stations or improper equipment performance, contact the County of Santa Barbara Agricultural Commissioner's Office/Department of Weights and Measures at 805-681-5600.