State finds several card skimmers during gas station checks

Crime

A file courtesy image shows a credit card skimmer found in a gas station pump.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State officials are reminding drivers to be observant when they fill up their tanks and keep an eye out for credit card skimmers after a recent sweep discovered several of the devices at gas stations around the lower part of the state.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says it found skimmers at eight gas stations, including three in West Michigan:

A map shows where MDARD found credit card skimmers in a recent inspection sweep.

The skimmers were discovered during what MDARD called a “routine inspection blitz.”

Crooks hide skimmer devices, which copy your credit or debit card information, inside gas pumps. They can then use the information to clone the card and make fraudulent purchases with your account.

Many gas stations check frequently for skimmers and mark pumps with special tape to show they haven’t been tampered with — but then it’s on customers to make sure that tape is intact before they insert their cards.

“The station owners had security measures in place to protect their patrons such as security tape,” Craig VanBuren, MDARD’s Lab Division director, said in a Thursday statement. “Unfortunately, the thieves cut, broke, or removed the tape. It is important that both the stations and customers remain vigilant at the pump when using a bank or credit card.”

To make sure you don’t fall victim to a skimmer, confirm the tape on the pump hasn’t been tampered with. If it has been removed, it will change color or read “VOID.” If the tape looks iffy, don’t insert your card and tell the station attendant.

Try to park at a pump that faces the gas station convenience store; crooks may not target those pumps for fear of being spotted by a worker. You can also choose to pay inside.

It’s a good habit to frequently check your credit card and bank statements to make sure no one else is using your information. If you notice something incorrect on your statement and think you may be the victim of a skimmer, call your credit card provider, local law enforcement or the MDARD Weights and Measures Division at 517.655.8202.

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