News this week that credit card skimming devices were found at three gas stations in Montgomery County was surprising and quite alarming.
There are various types of skimming devices or “skimmers” that can be used by thieves to read credit card information from consumers. In this case, the “skimmers” were inside the gas pumps, connected to the credit card reader. The “skimmers” have Blue Tooth capability to electronically transmit the stolen credit card data to a cellphone or laptop used by nearby thieves.
Montgomery County issued a press release explaining that the “skimmers” were discovered by Montgomery County Director of Weights and Measures Raymond J. Borst, who checked the initial gas station after he was contacted by a credit card fraud department, which had noticed strange activity from a convenience store in Amsterdam.
“The first three [gas pumps] we checked actually had skimmers in them,” he said.
Further checks by Borst discovered more at another city gas station and one in Fonda.
Amsterdam Police Chief Gregory Culick said the thieves are using universal keys bought online to gain access into the gas pumps.
“According to the experts, they are in and out of here within 30 seconds,” Culick said.
Officials said the “skimming” is occurring statewide and both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigation are involved in the case.
Borst said he “just completed a sweep of the county and there’s nothing out there as of right now.” He said checking ATMs and gas pumps are now part of his regular routine.
Borst deserves credit for taking the initiative to check for these devices and it’s reassuring to hear he will continue to do so.
In the meantime, there are ways to help protect against getting “skimmed”:
• use pumps closest to the gas station;
• use your cell phone to detect an unfamiliar Blue Tooth signal;
• pay for your gas inside the store.