Gas skimmers with 4,000 credit card numbers found in nine parishes
The state has seen an increase in skimming devices at gasoline pumps, according to Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.
According to Strain, in the past month, the department has confiscated at least 15 skimming devices throughout the state.
"Our inspectors seem to be finding one or two skimmers on a weekly basis. Consumers are also alerting our office more often which helps us track down these devices," Stain said.
The confiscated devices contained 4,000 credit/debit card numbers, according to the Secret Service. The skimmers were found in Avoyelles, Calcasieu, Jefferson, Orleans, Lafayette, Rapides, St. Landry, St. Tammany and Washington parishes.
Strain says that thieves are always attempting to evade authorities.
"Our inspectors continue to look for anything suspect and we remind convenience store employees to stay alert and try to monitor what is actually taking place at a gas pump," Strain said.
Strain said that costumers should monitor their credit card statements regularly to be aware of any unauthorized purchases.
According to Strain, skimming devices have become more innovative, with some using Bluetooth capability allowing them to transmit the financial information that they steal. This means that the thieves do not have to remove the devices to obtain the information they have skimmed.
The department released the following tips to protect costumers' personal information:
- Whenever possible, do not use the debit card function at the gas pump. Use it as a credit card in order to protect your pin number.
- 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.
- Check the pump card reader for signs of forced entry like bent panels or broken security tape.
According to LDAF, once the skimming devices are analyzed, all financial institutions affected are contacted by the Secret Service. The LDAF continues to work with the United States Secret Service, state and local law enforcement as they continue their investigations into skimming devices.