Summer is officially right around the corner, and many are counting down the days until they leave for vacation.
According to AAA, 64 percent of those planning a family trip are hitting the road despite higher gas prices. With more people at the pump, criminals are likely to be ramping up their efforts to take advantage of vacationers at the pump with credit card skimmers in order to steal personal data from the magnetic strip on the back of the card.
The information is then sold online or to make purchases online. Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas (BBB) urges consumers to use extra caution when filling up at gas pumps.
The East Texas Area is certainly not immune to these types of attacks. It’s important to know what to look for whether you are traveling or even when you’re in your own neighborhood.
“We expect that more skimmers will be located in the coming months,” Sergeant Jimmy Purdon with Longview Police Department said. “So far this year, we have located eight skimmers in Longview and two in Hughes Springs.”
Sergeant Adam Colby with Tyler Police Department reported that more than 130 skimmers were discovered in Smith County in 2017.
BBB and local law enforcement agencies offer the following tips to help keep your hard-earned money safe and out of the hands of criminals:
-- Check for the security seal. Many gas stations have security seals over the cabinet panel. Make sure the panel is closed and doesn’t show any signs of tampering. Avoid gas pumps that don’t have a security seal.
-- Look at the card reader. If the card reader looks different than the others, do not use the pump. You can try to wiggle the card reader before you put your card in. If it moves, report it to the attendant and use a different pump.
-- Use your debit card as a credit card. Running your debit card as a credit card protects your PIN number. However, if you don’t have that option cover your hand when entering your PIN because scammers sometimes use tiny pinhole cameras, situated above the keypad area, to record PIN entries. If there are any illegal charges made, a credit card ensures you’ll be reimbursed.
-- Monitor your credit and bank accounts. You can check your credit reports from the three main credit agencies for free every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com. Watch your bank statements closely, notify the bank of any suspicious charges and report any crimes to local law enforcement.
-- Pay inside. The safest option is to pay inside with the cashier. Another option is to use a gas pump near the front of the store. Often times, thieves may target gas pumps that are harder for the attendant to see.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.