Credit card skimmers on EBR, Ascension gas pumps
BATON ROUGE - A task force involving the State Department of Agriculture, U.S. Secret Service and local sheriff’s offices are investigating a recent outbreak of incidents involving credit card skimming devices installed at gas pumps throughout the state.
Since June 2015, the task force has found and disabled a total of 23 skimming devices at gas stations in Louisiana. The devices contained a total of 801 stolen credit and debit card numbers.
Three of the skimming devices were located in Ascension Parish and two different locations in East Baton Rouge Parish.
“As we hear more and more about this type of crime, our inspectors are removing anything suspect from the gasoline pumps. Convenience stores are also aware we are out there looking and are alerting the LDAF and their local authorities when they believe something is wrong,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.
Skimming devices are usually easily recognized when the gas pump credit card machines are opened because they are an additional attachment to the machine, according to the task force. However, a new type of device is replacing the older style of credit card skimmer that is much more difficult to detect.
“We’re now seeing skimming devices that have Bluetooth capability. This tells us these crooks are getting more and more tech savvy making it easier to access the consumer’s personal information,” said Strain.
The task force offered some tips to protect your personal information:
- Whenever possible, do not use your debit card function at the gas pump. Use it as a credit card.
- Monitor your debit/credit card activity online and contact your bank to report unrecognized charges.
- Whenever using a credit card, try to use a pump that is easily seen by gas station employees. Pumps that are less visible are commonly targeted because crooks can easily install a skimmer which normally takes very little time.
Other parishes where the skimming devices have been located include: Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Jackson, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, St Martin, St. Mary, Tangipahoa and Vermilion.
The task force says that when they locate and disable the skimming devices, the Secret Service contacts all financial institutions that are affected to ensure data security.