Sheriff: Protect against credit card skimming

Published 10:41 am Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Devices can be placed on atms and gas pumps

The Freeborn County sheriff is advising caution to prevent area residents from being defrauded by skimmers.

Kurt Freitag said he has seen a few cases recently in Freeborn County where the card reading devices have been inserted where you place your bank card, most commonly inside an ATM or a gas pump.

Kurt Freitag

Kurt Freitag

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He said criminals install a camera with the skimmer, then remove the items and retrieve pin numbers and other bank card information.

Being skimmed can open people up to a host of issues, including identity theft and credit card fraud, he said.

Freitag suggested having credit card companies alert you in the event of a credit card purchase of more than a certain amount of money.

He said skimmers can be easily found on gas pumps. Gas pumps and ATMs are constructed solidly and oftentimes the skimmer will be a different color than the devices or there will be other abnormalities.

He advised looking at two identical gas pumps or ATMs and, if possible, observing any differences in the card reader. Ifthey move, Freitag advised not using them.

Freitag said proximity skimming can also occur where a magnetic strip can be used to pull bank card information from you from a close proximity. He advised wearing a protective wallet that can be purchased to prevent such activity.

If you are skimmed, Freitag advised calling your credit card company and the Sheriff’s Office. He said your bank will likely forgive the loss of funds and take the loss of money.

He said many skimming incidents get reported but not prosecuted because law enforcement doesn’t have enough evidence to go on.

Freitag said skimming has been an issue on a nationwide basis for years, and while such incidents aren’t as frequent in Freeborn County as they are in metropolitan areas, they are still a concern.

Freitag has also seen corrupt employees defraud customers. If a gas station clerk advises you they need to go to a different counter to conduct a sale, Freitag advised walking with him or her and not conducting the sale if the clerk refuses to let you.

He advised placing your hand over the device and try wiggling the surface of the machines. If

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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