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Pumping gas could be hazardous to your credit

PHOENIX — The number of skimming devices found on gas pumps in Arizona is going up at a rapidly increasing rate.

Crooks have been awfully busy in recent weeks, installing skimmers inside gas pumps. A skimmer is a device made of a wire and a circuit board that steals the customer’s credit card information when he or she pays at the pump.

“It only takes them about seven seconds to physically open up the dispenser panel and install these wired-in skimming devices and then re-close the panels,” said Michelle Wilson, associate director for the Arizona Department of Agriculture, Division of Weights and Measures.

Wilson said there have been 40 cases of skimmers reported so far this year, compared to 11 cases for all of last year.

“Sometimes, it’s bluetooth enabled, where they can just come by and download the data, wirelessly. Other times, it’s just a hard chip and it doesn’t have any wireless features and they actually have to come and retrieve it from the dispenser to get all the credit card information.”

Wilson said you can’t tell by just looking at the pump if someone has tampered with it.

Some of the newer gas pumps have more encryption, and Wilson said the newer chip credit cards will be used in more dispensers starting in October of 2017.

“So, that new chip technology should slow this down,” Wilson said.

Arizona has recently passed legislation that makes the punishment for a skimming conviction more stringent than it had been.

Wilson warns consumers to be diligent in checking their credit cards for charges that are not theirs.

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