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Increase in skimming devices reported at local gas pumps and ATMs, how to prevent identity theft

Palm Springs police say they’ve seen an increase in skimming devices placed inside local gas pumps and ATMs. 

“Those things are out there. They’re active in the area again,” said Sgt. Mike Casavan, Palm Springs Police Dept.

The skimming device can read your card once you place it in the machine. Police say your personal information can then be accessed wirelessly by the suspect while a hidden camera catches your pin number as you enter it on the keypad.

“Currently we’re getting reports from businesses and reports from people who have been victims of identity theft,” said Sgt. Casavan. 

Authorities say it’s possible you won’t see anything unusual when you go to use a compromised machine. Some of these skimming devices are virtually undetectable from the outside. 

“The ones we’re seeing right now, they’re concealed in the machine,” he added. 

One Mobil station on Palm Canyon says they’re on high alert and often check their pumps internally for anything suspicious. 

“We have a company come out every few weeks to make sure that nothing like that’s happening. We want our customers to keep coming back and feel safe here,” said Albert Castillo, Service Manager, Mobil, Palm Springs. 

Police say you might want to change how you pay as a preventative measure. 

“One of the safest things you can do is pay cash. Or if you want to use your card you can pay to the cashier inside the store. We understand that’s not always convenient. We just say if you’re going to use your card at the pump or when you go to the ATM, just be cautious,” said Sgt. Casavan. 

If you’re a victim of identity theft or suspect a machine has been compromised with a skimmer, contact the business owner immediately and your local police department to file a report.

Tips courtesy of Experian.com

  • Pay with cash.
  • Pay inside where it is less likely the credit card terminal has been tampered with.
  • Use mobile payment options like Google Pay or Apple Pay.
  • Use the chip reader rather than swipe. Shimming is possible this way, but less likely.
  • Use credit, not debit, whenever possible. If a thief is able to steal your debit card information, they have access to your bank account.
  • Investigate the card reader to make sure nothing looks or feels unusual. If something doesn't seem right, pay inside and report your concerns.
  • If possible, only stop at busy, well-lit and well-maintained gas stations. Look for stickers or other signs that the pumps are regularly inspected.
  • Download the Skimmer Scanner app, which can warn you about a skimmer. Using Bluetooth, the app can alert you if the pump has been tampered with.

Click here for more information on skimming devices

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Madison Weil

Madison Weil joined the KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 News Team in June 2018. Learn more about Madison here.

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