Take precautions to prevent being ripped off by skimmers

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

If you’re one of the 47 million Americans who expects to drive more than 50 miles away from home on even this mid-week Independence Day, there’s one more thing to worry about.

Besides drunk drivers and other travel hazards, you might want to take extra precautions when it comes time to fill up your tank.

Last weekend, the Secret Service fanned out across the nation, to more than 80 locations in 21 states, and recovered 59 skimmers from 85 locations.

No word on where the latest ones were found, but skimmers have been found as close as Kearney and other locations in Nebraska in recent years.

Hidden on or inside gas pumps or other terminals, the skimmers allow you to buy gas or get your cash, but also steal your credit information and sends it to a financial institution where criminals can get access.

Then, they use it to re-encode a gift card or credit card and then use that to buy electronics, gift cards or other items they can sell.

You’ve probably noticed that many of your bank and credit cards have recently been converted to the type that contain a chip and require a pin, but many terminals still use the old magnetic strip which is easier to skim.

That doesn’t mean the criminals aren’t adapting to the new technology; they are.

To protect yourself, always check out the gas pump for broken seals, pry marks, a keyboard that is raised or different than others at the station. Pumps that are farthest from the station are most vulnerable to having skimmers installed.

If you’re more tech-savvy, you can use your smartphone to check for skimmers. Many of the devices use Bluetooth technology to transmit data to a waiting criminal. Turn on your phone’s Bluetooth setting and look for any odd signals when you’re ready to insert your card.

Use a credit card rather than a debit card for better legal protection, and carefully monitor your bank account transactions.

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