West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has announced a new initiative in the fight against identity theft, particularly involving “skimming.”
Skimmers — handheld devices and others attached to gasoline pumps and automated teller machines — allow identity thieves to steal credit/debit card information from the card’s magnetic strip.
In a letter to gasoline stations and convenience stores across West Virginia, Morrisey requested information on ways to raise skimming awareness and prevention among business owners, managers and consumers.
“Importantly, this letter is not a part of an investigation into your business,” Morrisey wrote. “We are asking for your input. With your help, our office hopes to create guidelines and strategies for helping retail gas and convenience store owners prevent and reduce skimming.”
The devices store the stolen data until it is transferred onto a counterfeit card. Thieves then use the counterfeit replica to charge an untold number of purchases onto the cardholder’s account without authorization.
In some instances, thieves also use unauthorized cameras to record the consumer’s personal identification number.
Skimmers are increasingly difficult to detect due to advancements in technology, however consumers should watch for anything attached to a gas pump or ATM card slot. Susceptibility also can occur at restaurants, retail establishments and anywhere consumers lose sight of their card in making a purchase.
The Attorney General’s Office urges consumers to always use their chip card as opposed to swiping the magnetic strip.
Also, they should cover the screen when typing PIN numbers, never share or write down such passcodes and refrain from choosing easy or obvious passwords, such as birthdays, a mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of a Social Security number.
Those who fall prey to skimming should place a fraud report with credit reporting agencies; contact your financial institution; order credit reports; and file a police report.
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of identity theft should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at wvago.gov.