MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Authorities in Madison County continue to investigate who put card skimming machines at a popular gas station recently.
Five skimmers were found at the Marathon gas station on the corner of Slaughter and Highway 72 in Madison.
At this point in the investigation, officials with the sheriff's office say they don't know how long the skimmers were installed at the pumps or how many drivers' card information could be compromised.
"They'll make the skimmers. They're usually Bluetooth enabled and they will gain access to the gas pumps and install them on the pumps," Cody Locke with the Madison County Sheriff's Office said.
Authorities are asking people who bought gas at Marathon within the past two months to check their bank statements for fraudulent purchases.
What do you do if you think you may be the victim of a credit card skimmer?
What precautions can people take before they even get to the pump to prevent this from happening?
WHNT News 19 took action to find those answers.
Summer is in full swing and people are hitting the road for vacation. Unfortunately, scammers are using that to their advantage.
"Certainly, the summer time of the year is a big time for travel, and a lot of entertainment expenses, so yeah, it`s going to be a ripe time for scammers to take advantage of as many people as possible," President of Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, Elizabeth Garcia said.
What should you do if you go to a gas pump and fall victim to a credit card skimmer?
"Number one, it`s important to contact the three credit reporting agencies and let them know you believe you are a victim of fraud," she said.
There are precautions travelers can take to protect themselves at the pump. Use the pumps that are well lit and closest to the gas station's front doors.
When you pay at the pump its recommended that you use a debit card instead of a credit card.
"Run it as credit, not as debit. That person is also going to capture that person's pin number," Locke said.
Using a credit card can make it easier for victims to get their money back.
"If you use a credit card, your odds are much better because you are only liable for, in most cases, some terms vary, but in most cases, up to about $50, if you report it rapidly, and then allow the credit card company to do their investigation, usually you`ll get it back," Garcia said.
Here are tips from the Red Stone Federal Credit Union:
- Consumers must be diligent in keeping their credit and debit card information safe from skimmers and shimmers.
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to actually spot a compromised ATM or gas pump card reader. It’s better to be proactive to safeguard your cards from unauthorized access. Here are a few tips:
- Use a credit card rather than a debit card for purchases. Credit cards are not tied to your checking account and they have more consumer protections in place.
- Use ATM's in well lit, high traffic areas.
- Use the gas pumps closest to the attendant’s station.
- Monitor activity on all credit cards and bank accounts frequently to catch unauthorized charges quickly. If you are a Redstone Federal Credit Union member, you can set alerts and monitor your account using your mobile app.
- Check your credit report frequently to make sure no unauthorized account have been opened in your name