Police: Hundreds of local victims of credit card skimming scam - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Police: Hundreds of local victims of credit card skimming scam

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Skimmers found in Post Falls gas pumps Skimmers found in Post Falls gas pumps
POST FALLS, Idaho -

There are hundreds of victims of a major credit card fraud case, and dozens of them might not even realize it. Detectives with the Post Falls Police Department told KHQ Saturday that they now believe there are at least 800 local people who have had their credit card information stolen through skimmers inside gas pumps.

Officers say thieves put skimmers inside of card readers, like the ones at gas pumps, and they use them to copy your debit card information. Police say crooks then copy that information to a blank card, and use that card to pay for things with your money.

The police department uncovered the skimmers inside the pumps of a Post Falls gas station back in October. Since then, Detective Neil Uhrig says patrol officers have been working with gas stations to make sure their pumps have not been tampered with. The good news is they have not found any new skimmers.

Police have not made any arrests in their investigation, but they say they have surveillance video which shows two suspects tampering with gas pumps at a local gas station where they first found the skimmers. Detectives believe the two people responsible have done this before, saying, "This is more than just our local problem."

We told you in November that the Secret Service announced it was getting involved in the investigation, because it believed this specific case may be connected to other incidents across the country.

Police in Post Falls told KHQ they believe the people behind the skimmers here have fled to Florida, but they're working with police there to track them down.

Investigators say they're going back through hundreds of copied cards to see where they were used, and if there is a pattern among that use. They are also looking over more evidence from the crimes.

Detective Uhrig says after their discovery, several area gas stations are taking more aggressive steps to protect their pumps. They are adding safety seals or locking mechanisms to make signs of tampering more noticeable, or to make it nearly impossible to open up the pumps.

Police say to their knowledge, there are none of the new "chip card readers" on gas pumps. Those readers correspond to new credit/debit cards that banks are rolling out with chips in them to increase security, and lower your risk of fraud.

While gas stations are upping their pump protections, security experts say there are some minor tweaks to your routine you can make to protect yourself right now.

1) On your next trip to the gas station, pay inside the store instead of at the pump. It's much more difficult for criminals to mess with machines inside the store than gas pumps.

2) Do not use a debit card to pay for gas, since it is directly tied to your bank account. Experts say use a credit card, a gas card, or cash instead.

3) Make sure you look over every credit card and bank statement carefully, and if something seems out of place call your bank immediately.

4) If you need to use an ATM, make sure there are no loose parts or fake covers before putting your card inside.

5) If you shop online, make sure you only use trusted website with security features before you enter any credit or debit card information.

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