'Significant increase' in card skimmers found on gas pumps in 2019, NC investigators say

SELMA, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina investigators found a significant increase in card skimmers on gas pumps in 2019.

Inspectors said they found 23 card skimmers on gas pumps across the state in the first three months of the year. In 2018, they found just five skimmers in the same time period; they found 37 over the entire year.

Related: Most risky places to use your card

Eleven of the 23 card skimmers found in 2019 were found in Johnston County. Five were found at the same location in Selma.

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As for who is behind putting these skimmers on the pumps, Chad Parker with the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says it could be anyone, as it's not hard to get access into the pumps.

"A lot of these pumps have manufactured keys," he said. "You can go online and get these keys. One key can probably open up most of the pumps in NC. So a very good thing for these stores should do is re-key these locks. It takes very little time to do that and saves the customer a bunch of money."

Until more gas stations start changing the locks on these pumps, consumers need to check their account balances often. The minute you spot a fraudulent charge, you should report it. Also if you suspect a pump has a skimmer, report it right away to the state so they can check out the pump.

For the average customer, there is no way of knowing if there is a skimmer inside a pump. Despite that, there are a few steps that consumers can take to reduce the risk of having their information stolen.
  • If possible, do not use a card at the pump. Paying for your gas inside, with either a card or cash, allows you to pay at a machine that has an employee watching over it all day.

  • If you do use a card outside, run it as a credit transaction, rather than debit. This way, the machine will ask for your ZIP code instead of your PIN, which leave you less vulnerable if a skimmer picks up your information.

  • Ask the store what kinds of measures they have taken to protect your information from being stolen
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