Use technology to stay safe from card skimmers, identity theft

Use technology to stay safe from card skimmers, identity theft

MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) - It's something we haven't heard about in a while, but credit card skimmers are still out there. Last year we saw a rash of devices in local gas stations in Midland and Odessa.

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was in town today helping you stay safe from identity theft.

Fueling up, it's something everyone has to do, but getting your identity stole at the pump is something you can avoid. Miller said card skimmers are everywhere, most of the time, you can't see them.

"It's a growing problem, it is organized crime," said Miller. "They'll hit an area and saturate it, we'll catch them, they'll move to another area and they ship a lot of this information overseas so it's hard to catch them."

So far this year The City of Midland has seen 4 card skimmers at gas pumps, The City of Odessa said they've seen 0. Some card skimmers are placed directly over a card reader, those can be tugged right off. Others, aren't so easy to see.

"Most of them now use bluetooth technology so crooks roll up take their phones out and it downloads information, you don't even have to get out of the car," said Miller.

Technology is making it easier for thieves to steal identities but it's also giving you the chance to catch them, just open your phone to the phone's bluetooth setting.

"Those are all my Bluetooth devices," said Miller. "So it's [bluetooth] trying to connect to other devices, obviously there's nothing within range of us. If there was it would pop up and say trying to connect to and it would have a long string of letters or numbers."

The only way to stay 100 percent safe is to pay cash. If you have to swipe a card go inside the store or choose a pump visible to the clerks. Most criminals will target the pumps less visible.

"If you do use a card at the pump, try to use a credit card instead of a debit card," said Miller. "Debit card they can clean out your entire bank account, with a credit card it's safe and you can get reimbursed."

If you think you found a card skimmer call 1-800-TELL-TDA, notify a store clerk or call the police.

Last year The City of Midland saw 8 card skimmers at gas pumps, The City of Odessa saw at least 3. The City of Midland said the decrease has come from business owners and community members being more aware and cautious.

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