KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
December 20, 2023
By Natalie Cook Clark
Katy residents share reports of theft at local gas stations. Crime tends to increase throughout the holiday season, but authorities share tips on how to stay safe.
Photo credit: Michelle Falbo.
Beware of Credit Card Skimming
Credit card skimmers continue to be an issue in the greater Houston area, including Katy. Sadly, crimes of this nature increase around the holidays. Many local gas stations have taken measures to protect their customers but it’s important for residents to know the risks and how to avoid being a victim.
Many Katy residents have taken to social media to report experiences of credit card skimming at local gas stations.
Michelle Falbo wanted to share experience as to warn others. She went to the Shell gas station at Kingsland Boulevard and Provincial Boulevard.
“I went to fill up my car and the gas machine would not read my credit card,” says Falbo. “I went inside to prepay for gas and the clerk had me try the credit card reader two times in the store. Both times it was declined.”
Later she was alerted from her bank on two different fraudulent attempts from the gas station. The first charge was for $125 worth of lottery tickets and the second was for $120 worth of merchandise in the store.
Robert Henslee with Harris County Precinct 5, Constable Ted Heap’s Office says that it’s impossible to know when the card was actually skimmed.
“It is not uncommon for a card to be skimmed weeks or even months before the suspects start using that credit card info for fraudulent charges,” says Henslee.
However, gas stations are popular targets for thieves to set of credit card skimmers. There are steps you can take to protect yourself such as using digital wallets like Apple Pay.
How to Not Become a Victim
“If you are using a credit card, it is generally best to pay inside rather than at the pump,” says Henslee. “If you pay at the pump, it is better to use contactless payment such as the tap-to-pay option rather than inserting your card into the card reader.”
To avoid an issue with something linked directly to your bank account, always use a credit card instead of a debit card. Be observant to the card reader.
“Do not use a credit card reader that appears to be loose or may have a device within the normal device,” says Henslee. “If you find a credit card reader that appears to have been tampered with or is otherwise suspicious, report it to Precinct 5 or to your local law enforcement authorities.”
“I am happy my bank caught it and declined charges, but I am sad that people do this,” says Falbo.
Don’t let this story get you down. Take your family to see some amazing holiday lights this season.