Police Issue Warning About Credit Card Skimmer

A NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspector checks for a skimmer on a fuel pump in March 2016. File photo

If you filled up your car with gasoline on Tuesday at a Smithfield convenience store you are encouraged to closely monitor your bank account for any fraudulent activity.

Smithfield Police confirmed Thursday that a credit card skimmer was found on a fuel pump Tuesday at the Sunoco located at 1716 E. Market Street next to I-95 in Smithfield.

Employees became suspicious after noticing a seal to the credit card reader door on the pump had been broken and took the pump out of service.  A “skimmer” or credit card reading device was later found on the credit card device.

When a customer swipes their card to pay, the skimmer copies the account data from the magnetic stripe on the back of the card, along with the PIN if it is a debit card transaction. It takes a thief less than 30 seconds to install a skimmer.

Police Captain R. Sheppard said anyone who paid for their fuel at the Sunoco with a credit or debit card between 9:00am and 6:00pm on Tuesday should closely monitor their bank accounts for any suspicious charges.

This marks the second time this year a skimmer has been found on a gas pump at the same convenience store. The skimmers are used by thieves to steal your credit card information.  It is difficult if not impossible for people using the debit and credit card swipe machines to know if a skimmer has been placed on the pump. However, you can look for broken safety seals on the credit card reader doors on the pumps.

“The police department is encouraging anyone purchasing gasoline and who uses any type of debit or credit card to make sure the seals on the gas pumps at the credit card reader and printing device are not broken,” Captain Sheppard said. “Contact the gas station attendant if the seal is not present as it may have been tampered with.”

Sheppard said if you aren’t sure if the seal has been tampered with or just want to be extra cautious, go inside the store to use your credit card or pay with cash.

So far there have not been any reports of stolen bank account information from the skimmer found Tuesday at the Smithfield Sunoco.