As cash is used less and less, thieves have more and more chances to steal your credit card information.
Recently, the Troy Police Department began to use special stickers at gas stations throughout the city. They're sort of like the seal on a food item, but instead of keeping your food fresh, they cover the door with the "guts" of the gas pump. If the seal is broken, consumers are urged to call police.
The stickers are not being used at every gas station, but according to Sgt. Meghan Lehman they’re getting a lot of businesses on-board.
“Most gas stations are happy to participate,” said Lehman. “It’s a deterrent, a thief looking for a pump to compromise may not use one with these stickers on it.”
It may sound simple, but every little bit helps.
According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, more than 70 gas station skimmer devices have been found at gas stations in our state over the past two years.
The skimmers have been found in urban areas like Ann Arbor, Detroit and Grand Rapids. They’ve also been found in rural towns throughout the state, meaning no matter where you swipe your card you could be targeted.
“It’s difficult to investigate because technology is always changing,” said Sgt. Lehman, adding that it also adds jurisdictional problems for local law enforcement.
In the old days police may have learned about a skimmer device at a gas station and they’d watch for the thief to return to pick up the device. As technology has advanced that’s no longer an option, most thieves now use devices that use Bluetooth-type technology that allows them to upload personal information from cards without ever retrieving the device.
It’s why police urge people to consider using cash, but knowing it’s not an ideal option for most they urge people to regularly monitor their bank and credit card statements.
Sgt. Lehman said you should also keep an eye on the credit card slot. Sometimes skimmers are put over the top of existing credit card devices at gas stations, if something doesn’t look right you shouldn’t swipe your card. She also mentioned watching for recognizable signs that it doesn’t match the rest of the gas pump, whether it’s a different style or the markings and stickers don’t match-up with the gas station.
If you do think that you’ve been impacted by someone stealing your information, the Michigan Department of Agriculture recommends contacting your banking institution immediately. MDARD inspectors do inspect pumps daily to make sure that pumps are accurately dispensing gas, but checking for skimmers is now part of those routine checks. If they find one, they work with law enforcement to launch an investigation.
If you’d like to learn more about how MDARD looks for skimmers at gas stations, they’ve released an informational video: