Credit card skimmers discovered locally

A new method of stealing credit card information was recently discovered at two local convenience stores, only adding the ways electronic thieves can take advantage of unsuspecting citizens.
According to Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer, credit card skimmers were identified inside gas pumps at two separate stores by a delivery technician for a gasoline company.
“We have never seen this type of credit card skimmer before,” Hierholzer said. “Neither have the people we work with at the crime labs or Homeland Security.”
Hierholzer said the device was so new to the area that Homeland Security officers requested the skimmer be forwarded to their offices to be studied.
Capt. Carol Twiss, who heads up the investigation division of the Sheriff’s Office, pointed out the presence of a computer chip in the device.
“Whoever placed this device inside that gas tank never even had to get out of their vehicle to retrieve the information on the chip,” Twiss said. “They pull up to the gas pump and use Blue Tooth to download the information.”
Hierholzer said his investigators are actively investigating who placed the skimmers in the gas pumps and how long they have been there.
“The crime lab will be able to tell if there are any fingerprints on it and will also test for DNA,” Hierholzer said. “We’ve only just begun the process.”
The most common skimmers to date are externally placed on credit card scanning equipment used mostly by the pubic, such as ATM machines, Hierholzer said.
“These are made to look exactly like the ones on the machines,” Hierholzer said. “It is equipped with a pin-sized camera.”
According to Hierholzer, the external skimmers will extract the credit card or debit card information electronically and the camera will allow the thief to view a customer as they enter in their PIN number.
“It is important that you cover your hands as you punch in your PIN number,” Hierholzer said. “Once a thief has information on your card and your PIN, they have access to all of your cash.”
Twiss said she makes it habit to pull on the front of the scanner at ATM machines.
“They are fitted on the ATMs and other machines with a magnet, so if you pull on it before your swipe your card and it is actually a skimmer, it will come right off,” Twiss said.
According to Twiss, investigators within the department receive 1-2 reports of fraudulent activity per day.
“The increase in technology is just making it easier for thieves to take advantage of the public,” Hierholzer said. “But there are some things citizens can do to protect themselves from being a victim of credit card or identity theft.”
Hierholzer suggests obtaining one credit card that is used for all purchases and bill paying.
“Make sure the limit is just enough and no more than you need and pay it off every month,” Hierholzer said. “Also, it is always a good idea to purchase identity theft insurance.”
Twiss said if a citizen finds themselves in the unfortunate situation of being a victim of credit card or identity theft, they should contact law enforcement and their bank immediately.
“Everyone always knows to the call the bank, but they don’t always think to call law enforcement,” Twiss said. “Depending on the situation, an identity theft victim might not know that a warrant has been issued in their name because of the actions of the thief.”
If anyone has information into the placement of the newly-discovered skimmers, Hierholzer is asking that they call his office at 896-1216.


. . . . . . . .

Leave a Reply