Gas pump skimmers have figured out how to steal customer credit/debit card information in San Bernardino County and sheriff's detectives are trying to catch the local culprits.
Skimmer devices on gas pumps have been found recently at a gas station in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, sheriff's personnel said in a statement.
"The device is placed inside the pump and hooked up to work in conjunction with the card reader attached to the pump," Detectives K. Green and B. Stringer said in the statement.
"The customer is unaware their card information is being copied to the skimmer to be downloaded at a later date," detectives said. "Once the data is downloaded the thieves can create fake credit/debit cards using the data collected from the skimmer."
Victims may not be aware of theft of their card information for weeks or months, detectives said. Customers can protect themselves by using keypads with individual buttons for each number, usually found on newer gas station pumps.
Detectives advised that customers "avoid using card swiping machines that either look or feel loose to the touch or appear to have been affixed with glue or taped to the machine."
Customers should be wary of suspicious activity in and around gas pumps and report concerns to gas station managers, detectives advised.
Customers can further protect themselves by using cards with low dollar limits, use a prepaid gas card, or cash, detectives said. They should also monitor their statements monthly to check for unauthorized purchases.
"It is unknown how long these devices have been in place or how many consumers have been victimized," sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said this week.