Inspectors In Massachusetts Combing Gas Stations, Other Card Readers For Skimmers

Image courtesy of WBZ

Look out when you’re on the road: police and state standards agencies have noticed a scary trend near highways in New England. Bluetooth card skimmers are appearing on gas pumps and ATMs in New England, slurping up customers’ payment data and beaming it to thieves who may be sitting just around the corner.

While the Division of Standards in Massachusetts is stepping up their inspections, they can’t be everywhere at once, and have asked citizens to also keep an eye out for card readers that don’t quite look right.

Here’s a real recent example: the green plastic unit was found on the ATM at a Cumberland Farms convenience store in Attleboro, MA. It was attached to the outside of the card slot with double-sided tape: hardly a high-tech intervention, but it likely fooled at least one customer.

“It seems to be at stations off busy highways or stations that might close at night,” an inspector explained to news station WBZ. “They can come by very easily and install one of these devices very quickly.”

Using a debit or ATM card on a compromised payment terminal is especially dangerous since that gives thieves the ability to drain your bank account: when using a credit card, at least you can dispute the charges before your actual money disappears.

It’s useful to check whether the plastic pieces seem to fit together. Does the card reader look like it was slapped on with some double-sided tape? Maybe it was. Teach yourself the habit of pulling gently on the card reader to make sure it’s firmly attached.

This won’t protect you against invisible skimmers that are inside the machine, but the type that stick or snap on the card reader are still out there in the wild.


Mass. Inspectors Look For Skimming Devices Inside Gas Pumps [WBZ]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.