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Goddard Warns Consumers about ‘Skimmers’ on Gas Pumps, ATMs

(Phoenix, Ariz. - July 16, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today warned consumers about credit and debit card “skimming” which has become increasingly prevalent in Arizona in recent months. Skimming involves the use of an inconspicuous electronic device that thieves can install on gas pumps or bank ATMs. Essentially, these small devices record your credit or debit card number off the magnetic strip on the card as you pay for your gas. Thieves then use the stolen card numbers to make fraudulent purchases.

“Skimming is simply theft by another name,” Goddard said. “I urge consumers who are victims of skimming to report it immediately to law enforcement and their bank, but also to the Attorney General’s Office.”

Some skimmers have also begun to utilize miniature remote cameras to capture the PIN of card users as they pay at the pump. Other skimmers have acquired wireless technology to intercept signals used to transmit card data from gas pumps to their central computer networks.

Scottsdale Police this week issued an alert which advised bank customers to be on the lookout for skimmers at bank ATMs. After skimming devices were found on machines at two Scottsdale banks.

This is not an isolated matter. One bank in Arizona told the Attorney General’s Office that many of its branches statewide have customers who have reported skimming.

Attorney General Goddard is offering the following tips to help consumers avoid becoming the next victim of a skimmer:

  • Go inside the store to process transactions and remain inside to sign all credit card receipts. Keep your receipts in a secure location or shred them to protect your identity.
  • Arizona Federal Credit Union suggests that you can protect your PIN by selecting “credit” at a gas pump. When using a credit card, your liability from a stolen card is limited to $50. 
  • If you do suspect skimming, call law enforcement immediately. You should also alert the gas station attendant. Do not rely on the attendant to call the police, as there have been instances in the past of skimming being perpetrated by the employees of a service station.

If you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at 602.542.5763, in Tucson at 520.628.6504, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1.800.352.8431. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General’s Website at www.azag.gov . To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help. Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site.

If you have questions, please contact Press Secretary Molly Edwards at 602.542.8019.