Sheriff Jay Russell Warns of Credit Card Skimming Theft
Recently, in both Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes, authorities have worked several cases of card skimming. Though none have been reported in Ouachita Parish, Sheriff Russell warns the criminal activity is become more widespread and criminals are using sophisticated technology.
In Jefferson Parish, a group of criminals based in Florida installed card skimmers on gas pumps at local convenience stores. This practice of using gas pumps is becoming more common and businesses along major interstate routes are typically the targeted. In St. Tammany Parish, criminals installed skimmers along with a small hidden camera on ATM machines. The skimmer obtained the card information and the camera recorded the actual PIN number used.
One type of skimming device is manufactured to appear to be a normal card reader and can be placed over the top of the machine card reader. Unless the customer looks closely, the skimmers appear normal and go undetected. When the customer swipes the card, the skimmer records and stores the information on the account to a small attached laptop or cell phone. Some skimming devices, particularly used on gas pumps, utilize Blue Tooth technology and send the information wirelessly to criminals working the area. These type devices are actually placed internally in a machine and cannot be detected by the consumer. Once the criminals receive this information, they then create fake credit cards, gift cards or use it to make direct cash withdrawals from accounts. “Several thousands of dollars in merchandise and cash can be obtained by the criminals before they are caught or leave the area” said Sheriff Russell.
To avoid being victimized by this type of criminal activity, Sheriff Russell offers the following tips:
- When using an ATM or a gas pump card, inspect the card reader and the area of the machine around it. Look for any signs of the reader being an attachment and anything that might be loose nor not fitting properly. Look for any type of adhesive residue such as glue or tape residue that might be on the surface of the machine.
- When entering your PIN number, it is a good idea to use your off hand to cover you keying in the number. This prevents a camera from recording the key pad while you are using it.
- Indoor ATM machines generally are less likely to have skimmers as opposed to outside, unattended machines. Use indoor machines when possible.
- ATM machines in high tourist areas are popular targets.
- Consider using a credit card and not a debit card for your purchases.
- Always check your card statements and report any suspicious activity as soon as possible to the credit card company or bank.