Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Skimmers Siphoning Credit Card Data at Gas Stations in Arizona, Colorado, Florida

If you buy gas using a DEBIT card, you're particularly at risk since when your debit-card account is compromised, the effects on you are much worse than when a credit-card account is stolen.  The scary thing about these "skimmers" is that they're INTERNAL -- inside the gas pumps -- and can't be seen from the outside.  The Krebs on Security blog has a lot more than the stuff I've excerpted here.

Skimmers Siphoning Card Data at the Pump — Krebs on Security
Thieves recently attached bank card skimmers to gas pumps at more than 30 service stations along several major highways in and around Denver, Colorado, the latest area to be hit by a scam that allows crooks to siphon credit and debit card account information from motorists filling up their tanks.

Forced to re-issue an unusually high number of bank cards due to fraudulent charges on the accounts, a regional bank serving Colorado and surrounding states recently began searching for commonalities among the victimized accounts. The financial institution, which shared information with KrebsOnSecurity.com on the condition that it not be named, found that virtually all of the compromised cardholders had purchased gas from one of a string of filling stations along or not far from Interstate 25, a major North-South highway that runs through the heart of Denver.

Several Valero stations along the I-25 corridor reached by phone acknowledged being visited over the past week by local police and U.S. Secret Service agents searching for skimmer devices. The stations declined to comment on the record, but said investigators left them with a bulletin stating that stations in the area had been targeted and urging them to be on the lookout for suspicious activity around the pumps.
Similar attacks on gas station pumps recently have hit other parts of the country: Police in Arizona also are dealing with a spike in reports about skimmers showing up at gas pumps, prompting Gov. Janice Brewer this month to urge the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures to increase their inspection efforts in looking for skimmers at gas stations.

The gas pumps compromised in the Denver-area attacks, showed no outward signs of having been tampered with or altered, according to several sources. My source at the bank said all of the pumps in question contained a device on the inside of the pumps designed to record data stored on the back of cards inserted into the compromised pumps, but he wasn’t sure whether the skimmers were designed to transmit the stolen data wirelessly.

My source said the hacked pumps in Denver tended to be on the outside edges of the gas station, those hardest to see by clerks in the station. ...

Unlike most skimmers affixed to ATMs — which can often be spotted because they rely on fraud devices that are attached to the exterior of the cash machines — gas station skimmers are planted after the thieves have gained access to the interior of the pumps. As result, there are rarely any signs that a gas pump has been compromised. However, consumers can and should keep a close eye on their monthly bank statements and report any unauthorized charges immediately.

The Truth In Lending Act limits consumer liability to fifty dollars $50.00 once a credit card is reported lost or stolen, although many card issuers will waive that amount as well. Fraudulent debit card charges are a different story: The Electronic Fund Transfer Act limits liability for unauthorized charges to $50.00, provided you notify your financial institution within two business days of discovering that your debit card was “lost or stolen.” If you wait longer, but notify your bank within 60 days of the date your statement is mailed, you could be responsible for up to $500.00. Wait longer than that and you could lose all the money stolen from your account.

Governor Brewer calls for increased effort to combat a rise in credit card skimmers
PHOENIX - Governor Jan Brewer is taking new measures to combat a rise in the number of credit card "skimmers" found around the Valley.

"Skimmers" are illegal devices that can copy information from your credit or debit card. These devices can be attached to an ATM machine or gas pump and are difficult to detect. Criminals can use the information to steal your identity and create counterfeit credit and debit cards.

You can find additional information regarding safety tips on gas pump skimmers by visiting www.azdwm.gov .

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