Your Cell Phone Can Help Detect Credit Card Skimmers


You’ve heard about the problem for years… you pull up to a gas pump and swipe your card, only to find out later your account was compromised. 

It was probably due to a credit card skimmer inside the pump.  They’ve been found on gas pumps throughout KELOLAND. In fact we had a rash of them in the spring. 

But as KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke found out, the next time you fill up at the pump, you can use an item most of you have on you every day to detect if there could be a skimmer inside the pump ready to steal your data.

Data thieves used to make skimmers out of card readers and use small web cams to capture pins, but just like with all new technology, skimmers have gotten more sophisticated.

The good news is, so has this high tech device many of us carry around–our cell phones.

And the next time you’re at the pump, your cell phone can help you detect if a skimmer is lurking as well.

“Howdy Neighbors this is your Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.  
In Texas, Sid Miller is telling consumers how to protect themselves from having their bank account compromised, by using their cell phones. 

“So just go to your phone, go to settings, hit Bluetooth. If you see a long string of numbers or letter trying to connect that is probably not good,” Miller said.

Skimmers aren’t just a problem in Texas, Miller’s advice can also apply anywhere there’s a gas pump. 

“I know there have been skimmers found in Bath, South Dakota, which is right outside of Aberdeen, along the highway,” Waldman said. 

Jon Waldman is a professional hacker, but he’s one of the good guys.  He helps make banks more secure.  Waldman says skimmers have come a long way. 

“It’s really cheap and easy for a bad guy to do and utilizing bluetooth now takes away the physical component of having to go and check on a skimmer. They can just be within 30 feet of a skimmer and steal the data that way,” Waldman said.

That means the criminals don’t get caught as easily because they don’t have to physically retrieve the device to get your information.  But your phone can also pick up on that Blue Tooth device.

“It will broadcast and wait for somebody to connect to it. If you just look on your phone, open up blue tooth and you see a suspicious looking blue tooth connection that will give you an idea that maybe something is not right here.  Waldman said. 

That’s when it’s time to go inside and alert the station.  

Gas Stations will be required to have EMV chip technology on all of their credit card machines by the year 2020 and that’s when they’ll be liable for fraud perpetrated at the pump instead of banks and credit card processors. 

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