It was just a routine annual check when an inspector with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development noticed the tell-tale sign of tampering inside this self-service gas pump at the Shell station on Plymouth Road in Livonia Thursday morning.
Credit card skimmers, harmless-looking devices, can actually be an intrusive window to your security. Thieves simply hook it up to existing wiring inside the pump cabinet, and they record your credit card information every time you swipe.
"They can get into those devices in anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds," inspector Joseph Daugherty said.
Criminals usually install the devices often unbeknownst to gas station owners.
MDARD says gas stations that aren't under 24-hour surveillance are at more of a risk for credit card skimming, and that gas station owners need to be vigilant.
"Just due diligence, you know, they're just going to have to watch their pumps and keep monitoring them and making sure that nothing's been tampered with," Daugherty said.
It's unclear how long the skimmer at the Shell station has gone unnoticed, but it has been removed and will be sent to the state lab for inspection.
MDARD officials offer these tips to consumers:
-Check your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges
-If you see something that doesn't look right, notify the store clerk and pay inside
-Skimmers often tamper with outer pumps. Try to use pumps closer to the store.