Records show San Antonio gas stations hit repeatedly by credit card skimmers
SAN ANTONIO - It happened ten times more often in 2017 than the year before: skimming devices placed on gas station pumps to steal your credit card information. Some San Antonio gas stations have been hit repeatedly.
So how you can protect yourself?
Some gas stations have improved their pumps, making them harder to tamper with. Newer models often don’t have a small cabinet door that opens with a key allowing access to the card reader. To get inside newer pumps a crook would have to swing open the whole front of the machine, which would attract a lot of attention.
Police say stations that get hit repeatedly have older pumps that aren't watched closely enough.
The 7-Eleven Exxon station at the corner of Northwest Military Highway at Wurzbach Parkway was the most frequent target of credit card skimmers in 2017. Police found 17 skimmers there.
SAPD officers found four of them when they were called out to the station in October. A few days later police responded again and found seven more pumps had been rigged with skimming devices.
It's estimated one skimmer can steal credit card information from up to 50 customers a day.
"I would believe it," said Ron Ramos, a regular customer at the station.
Ramos suspects his card information may have been stolen in recent months.
“When I see a charge on my debit card and I know I didn't charge anything, I've had to get a couple of cards reissued," Ramos told us.
We called the station and sent emails to their corporate headquarters, but got no response.
SAPD records show only six gas pump skimming devices were found in 2016, but last year, they confiscated 73 skimmers planted at close to 50 gas stations around the city.
"It's because there's nobody watching it. And maybe it's in a remote area of the facility," says Kevin Mullins, Senior Vice President of Electronic Services for International Bank of Commerce in San Antonio.
Banks have taken some big losses because of what criminals do with the card information once they've stolen it.
A young couple was arrested in Alamo Heights in December after they allegedly placed some tape over the camera at a bank ATM. Police say they had more than 70 gift cards that contained stolen credit card information, likely from a skimmer device.
The couple also had more than six-thousand dollars on them and police suspect they were taking cash out of ATMS using the counterfeit cards.
Some gas stations have replaced their older gas pumps with newer models with features that make skimming more difficult.
Customers like Ron Ramos wish more of them would because he's had his fill of gas pump fraud.
“I think they make an ample amount of money to be able to afford that, especially if they want their customers to keep coming back and feel secure," Ramos said.
In addition to looking for stations that have the new pumps, try to choose one that's close to the building where the staff can see it.