Gas pump skimmers linked to ID theft
Published: March 1, 2012
FOR THE second time in the
last few months, police have linked identity theft to credit
card information stolen from the pumps at a Forest Avenue gas
station, Pacific Grove Police Cmdr. John Miller said this week.
Last Thursday, a victim of identity theft contacted PGPD, and
investigators were able to trace the stolen credit card
information back to the 76 station on Forest Hill — the same
station from which customers’ credit card numbers were stolen
late last year.
“Police immediately responded to the gas station, and, with the
cooperation of the gas station management, inspected all gas
pumps for a skimmer,” he said. Skimmers are small devices
thieves surreptitiously attach to the pump at the point of sale
to collect vital credit and debit information. They come in
various forms and can be affixed internally or externally, and
their information can be harvested by cell phone, so the thieves
never have to touch the pumps again.
Fuel pumps are typically opened with a universal key that’s
relatively easy to acquire, investigators have said in the past,
and gas station employees are often in the habit of checking
pumps regularly to ensure they haven’t been tampered with. In
2010, an employee at the 76 station on Carmel Rancho Boulevard
found two skimmers attached to pumps there.
More recently, two of the devices were recovered from inside
the pumps at the same Pacific Grove 76 station on Dec. 7, 2012,
and Miller said management there “is working to improve the
security on the gas pumps.”
So far, between the first report Feb. 21 and Feb. 25, Miller
said his department fielded another three calls about identity
theft, which were also linked to the theft and unlawful use of
credit card information stolen from the station.
Police advise the public to run credit checks and monitor their
bank information regularly, so that such theft can be caught as
quickly as possible, and to use credit cards to avoid entering
their PINs at the pumps.