BOSTON - Skimmers that steal your credit card information from places like gas pumps and ATMs are more high-tech now than ever before.
Boston 25 News took a closer look at how police and federal agents are working to stay ahead of the criminals in our area and keep your money safe from these new sophisticated skimmers.
In April, criminals skimmed Dana Marin’s debit card number from a gas pump and drained hundreds from her account. It was money the mother of twins had planned to use for essentials.
“We were going to pay the power bill and we were going to go grocery shopping,” Marin said.
She isn’t alone. Matt Quinn with the Secret Service says they're seeing a surge in credit and debit card skimming from gas stations and ATMs.
Most criminals come from out of town, even outside of the U.S.
“The large organized criminal groups tend to be eastern European and the gas pump skimming lately tends to be Cuban nationals,” said Quinn.
Sophisticated technology now allows criminals to attach a skimmer and get your information without ever going back to retrieve the device.
“We're starting to see them using antennas. We believe they can be as far as a mile away,” said Quinn.
Quinn says some skimmers have new, smaller storage cards giving thieves the ability to steal from more customers. One chip can hold in excess of 300 credit card numbers
The Massachusetts Department of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation inspected more than 15-hundred gas pumps in the state and found four skimmers at pumps in Easthampton and Amherst
In eastern Massachusetts, this year alone, Boston 25 news has reported on skimmer devices on ATMs in Ashland, Southborough, Quincy, Braintree, Weymouth, Hanover and Attleboro.
Skimmers were also suspected in Middleton, Salem, Saugus, and Malden.
A department spokesman tells us, often machines at convenient stores are targeted, since they're not monitored as closely.
In some cases, they even created fake security tape on gas pumps to make you think no tampering occurred.
The Massachusetts Office of Consumer affairs offers simple steps to protect yourself.
- Use well-lit pumps closest to the store.
- Report any signs of suspicious behavior or tampering immediately.
- Use cash or pay inside when you can.
- And check your accounts frequently for fraud.
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