Be on alert for credit card skimmers at gas pumps

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Kentucky Department of Agriculture inspectors are on the lookout for credit card skimmers in motor fuel pumps across the state with the Memorial Day weekend and summer driving season coming.


“These devices are used to steal credit card information so criminals can use that data to make purchases that are charged on the victims’ cards,” said Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.  “For the fourth consecutive year, our inspectors will check for skimmers in addition to their normal duties at no additional cost to Kentucky taxpayers.”


Under state law, motor fuel pumps must be inspected by KDA personnel once a year.  Inspectors test pumps to ensure that the amount of fuel dispensed matches the amount shown on the pump, and check to make sure each pump is in proper working order.


KDA inspectors were involved in a 2017 case that resulted in the arrest of eight people in a credit card skimming scheme, in which some 7,000 credit and debit card numbers were compromised at several Louisville-area retail locations.


Quarles is advising drivers to look for signs that a gas pump has been compromised.  Evidence of tampering could include scratches or other damage around locks or doors, components that look different from the rest of the device or from other pumps (such as a skimmer placed over a card reader), a loose card reader, and security tape that is broken or does not adhere to the pump.


Authorities also suggest filling up your vehicle at a pump as close to the attendant station as possible, since thieves often place skimmers in pumps out of sight of the attendant.  In addition, you can avoid the risk by paying in cash.

Anyone who finds evidence a pump has been tampered with are advised to bring it to the attention to the retailer and local law enforcement. To report possible tampering to the KDA, call (502) 573-0282 or email ag.web@ky.gov. Please include the retailer’s name and location, the pump number, and the fuel grade.


The National Association for Convenience Stores says a single compromised pump can capture data from 30 to 100 cards per day.

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