KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
December 7, 2021
By Natalie Cook Clark
Credit card skimming at local gas stations is nothing new. This time of year the crime seems to increase and it reported last night at a Katy Exxon station. Katy authorities offer advice on how to avoid being a victim of this ongoing crime.
A Katy family believes their credit card was skimmed from the gas station at 99 and 359 outside of Elyson in Katy.
“We pumped gas at the Exxon at around 5:30 p.m. and as we got out of the parking lot O received a text from my bank notifying me of a fraudulent charge,” says Rick Gil. “I had to sit on hold for a bit and by the time I talked to a rep they had tried the card three times. Three charges in three different states at the same time.”
Gil reached out to the gas station and they said that they would notify management.
Gil says that a similar event happened to him 2 years ago and he believes the time of year has to do with it.
“I am assuming the small charges were to see if it worked before trying t buy a bunch of stuff online,” says Gil.
Warnings from Authorities
Authorities strongly advise residents to use caution when using public credit/debit card machines.
"Credit card skimmers have been a problem off and on for years all across Harris County," says Harris County Constable Ted Heap. "Some gas stations have taken steps to tighten security at their pumps but, unfortunately, not all pumps are as well protected as others."
“We frequently get calls about possible skimmers at gas stations,” says Jeff McShan, Personal Information Officer with Constable Ted Heap’s Office. “Precinct 5 works with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department to investigate these reports.”
"Technology can be a great tool in our lives, but it can also be a dangerous tool in the hands of criminals. Even so, are several things you can do to help protected yourself from these skimmers," says Constable Heap.
Constable Heap says that the safest option is to take your credit card inside the gas station and pay for your gas at the counter instead of paying at the pump.
If you can't do that, Constable Heap offers tips to protect yourself from this theft.
How to Detect Gas Pump Skimmers
Check the pump panel for tampering. If the security tape is ripped, avoid the pump station.
Inspect the card slot and the PIN pad (compare with other pumps).
Be on the lookout for hidden cameras.
Avoid the PIN pad entirely.
Choose the pump closest to the gas station.
Tips to Reduce Your Chances for Credit Card Skimming/Fraud
Use indoor ATMs with security cameras nearby
Choose an ATM with a card reader that is inset into the machine.
Set up mobile banking alerts to be notified of credit card activity as it happens.
Save receipts and monitor your bank statements on a regular basis. Credit card skimmers don't always use bank information immediately. It could be months later.
Report skimming or fraud immediately to your bank and local law enforcement.
Avoid doing business at unfamiliar places or questionable online sites.
Check electronic readers for any evidence of tampering. If the card reader appears loose or broken.
If you suspect you have been a victim of credit card skimming at a gas station, notify authorities and the gas station.