RICHLAND CENTER POLICE DEPARTMENT
March 29, 2017
For Immediate Release
Chief of Police Lucas Clements reports that the police department received several debit card fraud complaints over the past weekend. Each complaint involved debit card numbers and their associated PIN being stolen and then used fraudulently on a cloned debit card.
This type of crime and method is consistent with thieves using a “skimmer” device that can be used to obtain credit or debit card information. The use of “skimmers” has become more common across the country in recent years, with “skimmers” typically being placed inside gas pumps, making them undetectable without opening the pump.
After the thieves place the “skimmer” inside a gas pump, they return after a period of time and remove the device and or simply collect the data, which consists of the credit or debit card information from customers paying at the pump.
While investigating the rash of debit card fraud complaints, Chief Clements states the police department contacted our local gas stations to assist in checking for “skimmer” devices. As a result, one “skimmer” device was located at Triangle Kwik Stop (TKS) on Sextonville Road and removed by law enforcement. No additional “skimmers” were located within the city.
TKS has added additional anti-tampering security features and monitoring to each of their pumps, there isn’t a concern of further accounts being compromised.
Chief Clements suggests that if you have used TKS to purchase gas from the pump in recent weeks, please review your bank statements for any fraudulent activity. If fraudulent activity is located and you’re a city resident please call the police department to report the crime. If you’re a county resident, call the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Other ways to stay protected from “skimmer” devices include:
*Enable Bluetooth on a smart phone and search for any unusual signals nearby before swiping a card to purchase gas. If a signal comes back from the gas pump, do not use and immediately notify law enforcement and store personnel.
*Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with. Many stations are now putting a piece of security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened by unauthorized individuals.
*Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place “skimmer” devices at the gas pumps farther away from the store so they are not noticed as quickly.
*Make payments inside the store with the cashier.
*Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
*If using a debit card, run it as credit. Since the credit option doesn’t require a PIN the purchaser has more protection.
*Continue to monitor bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges. “Skimmer” thieves may delay using your account from the time they obtained your credit or debit card information, in an attempt to not raise suspicion.
Chief Clements adds, that during this investigation, it was learned two more “skimmers” were located in neighboring Viroqua. Which illustrates that this type of illegal activity isn’t just specific to our community. These criminals travel far and wide, which makes the tips previously mentioned important for all of us to practice.