CHARLOTTE, N.C. – There is a new warning about the invisible way thieves are taking your money at local gas stations.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is alerting the public about skimmers hidden inside the pumps.
There’s a new twist on the crime; you put your card into the gas pump and your personal information is picked up and transmitted to a criminal on a computer.
On Wednesday, CMPD gave several tips, including using a credit card instead of a debit card, but nothing seems to be full proof.
Pain at the pump usually refers to high gas prices, but now police are warning about something that doesn’t come with a big sign.
“You will never see it,” says one CMPD officer who investigates financial crimes.
It’s a new high-tech skimming device hidden in the gas pump. The software allows thieves nearby to skim credit cards using Wi-Fi. Then, they can clone the credit card with a blank gift card.
Unfortunately, police say installing the devices doesn’t take long.
“30 seconds if that, 20 seconds to install a skimmer,” says a CMPD officer.
“They’re going to get us one way or another, it’s just technology is taking over,” says a gas customer.
However, you can take steps to protect yourself. Police say use the pump nearest to the gas station and know that debit cards make you even more vulnerable.
“When you use it as a debit card, you expose your pin number unnecessarily, do it as a credit that way at least the transaction also backed by VISA,” says the officer.
When using an ATM, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has several recommendations including using machines inside of banks and stopping a transaction if the card encounters resistance.
CMPD says the cases are happening all over the city, the county, and the United States. They say it helps to regularly check your bank account for unauthorized activity.
When using an ATM, the BBB has several recommendations including using machines instead of banks, and stopping a transaction if the card encounters resistance.
“I do check my bank account, daily,” says one woman at the gas station.
Police say to call them immediately if you see anything suspicious, like someone tampering with a gas pump or ATM machine.