On Saturday, March 19, 2016, state and federal regulators and various law enforcement agencies conducted a full-scale gas pump blitz across Michigan as part of the ongoing efforts to crackdown on consumer credit card information being hacked by credit card skimmers.
The Kent County Sheriff Department participated in the sweep that was coordinated by the Department of Agriculture and partnered with the FBI. Michigan State Police, and other Sheriff Departments in several counties. During the sweep, a credit card skimmer was found a pump at the Citgo gas station, located on 17 Mile and White Creek, in Cedar Springs. The skimmer was collected by the Kent County Sheriff Department and turned over to the FBI.
“Due to the skimmer being proactively located, it is believed that several people were protected from credit card fraud, as the unknown suspect(s) were unable to retrieve the information contained on the skimmer,” said Sgt. Jason Kelley, with Sheriff Department’s Cedar Springs unit.
During Saturday’s blitz, which took officials from Grand Rapids to Saginaw to Lansing to the U.P. to Detroit and Traverse City, three credit card skimming devices were removed and confiscated and more than 3,000 pumps were checked. The other two skimmers were found at gas stations in Howell, Michigan.
“These blitzes make it clear to these cyber-criminals we’re actively looking for skimming devices – not just during the traditional work week – but on weekends too,” said Jamie Clover Adams, MDARD Director. “Credit card skimmers will not be tolerated and Michigan’s Weights and Measures inspectors, gas station owners, and law enforcement will continue to be on the hunt for skimmers to protect the state’s consumers from fraud.”
Credit card skimmers can’t be seen from outside the pump. Criminals use keys to quickly open the pumps, insert the skimmers and leave. Skimmers can be installed in seconds. The skimmers then make a copy of the consumer’s card information for criminals to make fraudulent purchases.
“Some steps station owners can take to protect their patrons are changing locks, using tamper-proof security tape, and adding security cameras. Additionally, owners should also be increasing their dispenser inspections, and be more aware of these attacks,” said Clover Adams.
Jennifer Holton, with the MDARD, said that checking for skimmers has been an everyday practice since August 2015, but occasionally they do a blitz. “Not only do we check the quality of the gasoline, but we check for skimmers, too,” she explained.
Holton said that if something seems off at the pump, go inside to pay, and alert the cashier if you see something off. You should also regularly monitor your credit and debit card info to make sure you recognize purchases. “Immediately notify your banking institution if you notice something that shouldn’t be there,” she said.