DCP warns consumers about gas pump skimmers

The holiday season is a busy travel time on Connecticut roads, and there is a lot for consumers to think about. The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) has seen the number of skimming related incidents reported nearly double this year compared to 2015. Consumers should stay extra conscious of their surroundings at the pump during this time of heightened holiday travel.

“Unfortunately, criminals who commit fraud strike at a time when consumers are most vulnerable, or more occupied than usual. During the holiday season we’re thinking about finishing up work, family travel plans, and gatherings with family and friends,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris, “The last thing many consumers are thinking about is whether or not their gas pump card reader is secure. We hope consumers remember to keep checking the pump and their credit card statement in their routines to protect their finances during the holiday season.”

“We’ve seen a spike in the past year of skimmers appearing in gas pumps, and are working hard to make sure consumers and others that we work with know what to look for,” said Daryl Owens, an Inspector with the agency, “DCP has worked hard to collaborate with law enforcement to make sure we’re all communicating effectively and quickly about skimming attacks, and educating consumers. We want to be as proactive as we can.”

When consumers get their financial information stolen, it creates extra work for honest consumers and businesses. That said, it is preventable, and there are steps we hope consumers can take to protect themselves this holiday season:

What you can do at the pump:

  • Make sure the seal on each gas pump isn’t broken or tampered with. If it is, that indicates that someone not authorized to inspect a gas pump has tampered with it.
  • If you see a pump that you believe may have been tampered with – don’t use it. You should report that pump’s issue to the gas station attendant.
  • Use your credit card or pay by cash. If you pay by cash, you won’t fall victim to a skimming attack. If you use your credit card, you will be able to recover your funds more easily, and keep money in your bank account.
  • Pay inside. Paying inside reduces your risk of falling victim to a skimming attack significantly because it’s much harder for fraudsters to place a skimmer indoors near the cash register. If you must pay outside, pick the pump closest to the building or security camera.

What you can do at home:

  • Check your credit card statement regularly. If you have a charge that looks unfamiliar, it’s important that you notice as soon as possible. That way, you can have a conversation with your credit card company.
  • Plan your trips. If you’re taking a long holiday road trip, plan ahead so you know where you’re getting gas and you can retrace your steps if need be.  
  • If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a skimming attack call your credit company first to make sure you get the necessary paperwork to get what you spent returned. Then make sure you alert your local police and DCP.

If consumers have questions for DCP, or need to file a complaint related to gasoline, they may contact the Food and Standards Division at [email protected] or 860-713-6160.

An example of a secured gas pump seal.

An example of a secured gas pump seal.

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