FORT MYERS, Fla. Stealth devices that steal credit card information are becoming even sneakier.
Skimmers are increasingly smaller and harder to distinguish from the credit card slots they prey on at gas stations, ATMs and other places.
“You would never know it was there,” Collier County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Sawyer said. “As the public becomes more savvy, criminals become more savvy and everyone steps up their game.”
Three dozen skimmers have been reported in Southwest Florida so far in 2017. The devices record credit card information as unwitting consumers swipe their cards, allowing whoever placed the skimmers to collect the data.
The danger is enhanced when consumers swipe debit cards and enter their PIN numbers, giving criminals access to their bank accounts.
“They’re creating key overlays now,” Sawyer said. “It’s a device that goes over the keypad, and so it recognizes you punching in those numbers through a Bluetooth device.”
Law enforcement officials have this advice:
- Pay cash for gas if you can.
- Use the gas pump closest to the front door of the station. Employees are more likely to notice anyone putting a skimmer on that pump.
- Stick to ATMs you’re familiar with whenever possible. That way, you’re likely to notice any slight differences on the machine that could tip you off that a skimmer is present.
- If you need to use the keypad, feel around for anything that may be over it.
- Tug on the card reader. “If you tug on (a skimmer), it’s probably going to come off,” Sawyer said.