Afraid of gas pump card skimmers? Paying inside may be your best bet

BRUNSWICK, OH (WOIO) - The next time you use an ATM or gas pump, take a closer look.

Credit card skimmers are hitting Northeast Ohio, and the technology they're using is getting harder to spot. Scammers are placing their look-alike skimmers over the top of these machines where you swipe your card.

But sometimes scams like this are impossible to spot, because the skimmers are inside of the machines.

The Better Business Bureau of Akron has seen several cases of credit card skimming in Summit and Medina counties. The most recent case was at a gas station on Center Road in Brunswick. A gas pump had an internal card skimmer, so you couldn't see anything unusual from the outside.

A yellow box was found over the key pad inside. It also had an antennae inside, transmitting 60 feet away.

"If they can just be sitting in their car, pulling the information down, it's very difficult to catch," said Better Business Bureau of Akron President and CEO Christy Page.

The Medina County auditor found the skimmer during a routine inspection.

Page recommends choosing a gas pump in eyesight of the cashier and paying inside to avoid fraud. She also recommends using a credit card instead of a debit card, because credit card fraud can be easier to manage.

Sometimes you'll find skimmers on top of the card readers. You can check to see if the color looks off and for any signs of tampering.

"If you kind of rattle it a bit and it's loose, nothing should be loose on a gas pump or an ATM machine," Page said.

Page also recommends checking your bank and credit card statements for anything unusual.

Cleveland 19 wanted to know how thieves continue to get away with scams like this with video surveillance at most ATMs and gas stations.

"It's very hard to detect and know when it put on and to go back and watch every single pump, every single hour to see. They try to do it very quickly, and then we don't necessarily know the victims from this because when somebody's identity is stolen, they don't necessarily know how it happened," Page said.

So how do scammers get into gas pumps? In some cases, they have a universal lock. So once thieves get the key, they can get into pumps at several gas stations.

If you think you've fallen victim to a scam like this, call police first and then report it on the Better Business scam tracker.

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