Identity Thieves Targeting More Gas Stations With Skimmers

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – Authorities have issued a warning for drivers in Highlands Ranch after crooks put credit card skimmers on gas station pumps.

“Well they’re at it again,” said Robyn Otero, one of a growing number of identity theft victims in Highlands Ranch. “All my friends. It’s kind of what happens nowadays. It’s just, that’s the way it goes,” she told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.

Over the past few weeks, several residents have reported having their credit cards numbers stolen through so-called skimmers set up at gas station pumps throughout the area.

The crooks hit Otero for $200.

“It was the next day and I noticed it. It was right after the transaction that I had done, so that’s how I knew it was the gas station,” she said.

The skimmers are usually placed over the credit card swiping area. The device reads every card swiped and records personal information. In Otero’s case it was well hidden.

“I paid at the pump. I didn’t notice anything artificial or anything,” she said.

highlands ranch skimmers 6map Identity Thieves Targeting More Gas Stations With Skimmers

Recent victims have been reported at the Shell stations on Broadway and Highlands Ranch Parkway, and Wildcat Reserve Parkway and McArthur Ranch Road. The sheriff’s office says because not all pumps have been converted, even credit cards with chips are not immune.

“They’re sneaky. As technology has increased, their technology has increased as well,” said Otero.

An example of a skimmer (credit: Lafayette Police Department)
An example of a skimmer (credit: Lafayette Police Department)
She says after being targeted once, she no longer pays for gas outside.

“Credit cards and debit cards are just not as secure. Definitely pay inside. Even when it’s snow and cold and you’re feeling lazy.”

And as deputies search for the elusive criminals, Otero has some words of advice for her fellow neighbors.

“Just pay in cash. They can’t get you that way.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says they have no suspect information. They do have some tips to avoid becoming a victim:

– Pay cash
– Use the credit card at the register and not at the pump
– Before using the unit at the pump, give it a quick tug or shake it. The bad guys just use double sided tape of glue to attach the bad skimmer to the pumps so that they can easily remove the skimmer when they are done.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

What Identity Thieves Do With Stolen Credit Cards

MoneyTips

The convenience of modern digital commerce comes with an unfortunate side effect: it makes identity theft more convenient as well. The 2016 Identity Fraud study from Javelin Strategy and Research found that 13.1 million consumers in the U.S. were victims of identity theft during 2015, to the tune of $15 billion. Over the last six years of available data, the identity theft totals have reached approximately $112 billion.

In the end, the fraud affects you and your creditors and card issuers directly, but your stolen card information can generate multiple transactions before you even see a dime of losses. Identity thieves can choose to sell your credit card information to others instead of using it for their own purposes.

If your credit card information is stolen as part of a large breach, it’s more likely that your identity and information will be sold at least once as part of a package deal. Along the path to fraudulent purchases your card will be valued based on such factors as whether it is proven to be active (typically with small purchases that may go unnoticed) and whether other information is included — such as passwords, Social Security numbers, and birthdates that make it easier to open new lines of credit in your name.

Once your card information ends up in the hands of the final “user,” the fraudulent action can take many forms. The thief may make a duplicate card, choose to open up fraudulent accounts in your name, or simply use your existing card to buy items that can be resold for cash. Common purchases include expensive items such as jewelry or high-end electronics that are lucrative to resell, gift cards that may be easily cashed in with retailers, online shopping sprees — even items that would be considered “costs of doing business” such as website and server expenses.

You probably do not care much about which thieves (or how many) take advantage of your stolen information or how they monetize it; you just want to minimize the damage and prevent further losses. That requires a mix of corrective and preventative action.

If thieves have already made fraudulent purchases on your account or opened new accounts in your name, you must take immediate action. Call your card issuer immediately to have your current account closed and a new card reissued, and file the police reports and other paperwork necessary for your fraud protection.

Use the MoneyTips credit monitoring service to check your credit report for any fraudulent accounts that have been opened in your name, and contact the credit issuer(s) to close any accounts. Apply either a fraud alert (requiring creditors to verify your identity before issuing new credit) or a credit freeze (blocking most access to your credit report) to lessen the chances of more fraudulent accounts being opened in your name.

If you have not had any problems with stolen credit cards or identity theft, count your blessings — and take preventative action to keep your good fortune intact. Use strong passwords and do not repeat passwords for each site. Make sure that online purchases are made through legitimate and secure websites, and do not give your credit card information over non-secure public computers or unsecured wireless systems. Check your credit card statement regularly for any fraudulent purchases, no matter how small.

Still unsettled about identity theft? Consider using services that monitor your account activity and alert you to unusual activity.

Take proper actions to protect your credit, and hopefully you will never have to find out firsthand what happens when your credit is compromised — and if you do end up with compromised credit, know what actions to take to limit the damage. Make sure that thieves get the lowest return possible on their efforts.

If you would like to prevent identity theft, check out our credit monitoring service.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/AndreyPopov

Can I change my Social Security number?

Can I change my Social Security number?

We can assign a different number only if:

  • Sequential numbers assigned to members of the same family are causing problems;
  • More than one person is assigned or using the same number;
  • A victim of identity theft continues to be disadvantaged by using the original number;
  • There is a situation of harassment, abuse or life endangerment; or
  • An individual has religious or cultural objections to certain numbers or digits in the original number. (We require written documentation in support of the objection from a religious group with which the number holder has an established relationship.)

When we assign a different Social Security number, we do not destroy the original number. We cross-refer the new number with the original number to make sure the person receives credit for all earnings under both numbers.

People who want to ask for a new Social Security number must:

  • Apply in person at a Social Security office;
  • Complete an application;
  • Provide a statement explaining the reasons for needing a new number;
  • Provide current, credible, third-party evidence documenting the reasons for needing a new number; and
  • Provide original documents establishing:
    • U.S. citizenship or work-authorized immigration status;
    • Age;
    • Identity; and
    • Evidence of a legal name change, if appropriate.

For more information about changing your Social Security number in domestic violence cases, see New Numbers For Domestic Violence Victims.

To request a different Social Security number, contact your local Social Security office for an in-person appointment.