SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - During routine inspections, San Luis Obispo County inspectors located 16 credit card skimmers at three different gas stations within the county.
Credit card skimmers are hidden devices that are embedded inside of gas pumps, usually near the credit card reader, and commonly used to record credit/debit card numbers while the pump is being used. Those numbers are then retrieved by the culprit later or transmitted to an offsite receiver.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell if a pump has been implanted with a skimming device from the outside. Inspectors must have gas station operators open their pumps in order to search for the devices.
San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture said it is aware there is a credit card skimming problem in the county. In response, Weights and
Measures Inspectors are stepping up their routine surveillance.
During a recent inspection, a total of 16 credit card skimming devices were located at three gas stations. Local law enforcement was called to the stations immediately and the skimming devices were removed. These skimming devices were determined to be the type that transfer information by Bluetooth to an offsite receiver.
SLO County said they are unable to release the locations of the gas stations due to the ongoing investigation. "The skimmer inspections are currently open and under investigation, the department cannot share the exact location of the fuel stations until the cases are closed. It is advisable customers continuously monitor their banking and credit card statements to identify any unauthorized activity."
In an effort to help protect yourself from credit card skimming, the county's Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer Martin Settevendemie said you can do the following:
- Pay in 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.
- Consumers should also always carefully review credit/debit card company statements for suspicious charges.
For more information on SLO County’s Weights and Measures Program, you can visit their website here.