The fact that the gas prices are going up is enough frustration to make you be ready to pull your hair out. But to make matters worse, I have to warn all of Central Texas to be very careful and keep an eye out for card skimmers.

If you’re not familiar with what is a card skimmer is, it's a device thieves can install in gas pumps and other machines where you might swipe your credit or debit card (like an ATM). The device makes it easy to obtain your personal information, and you can imagine what happens after that.


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Chances are you've seen stories about skimmers from time to time, but we all get busy or gas up in a rush and forget to check. I bring it up because I was at a gas station last night and got to talking to the clerk, who reminded me to be careful and check the magnetic strip on the pump before I swipe.


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The clerk explained to me that if the strip is pulled back, it should have the word VOID written on it. If not, then you need to notify a clerk as soon as possible because it could have been messed with.

Most fuel pumps will have at least one security sticker on the seam. If that looks as if it's been tampered with, broken, or peeled off and re-stuck, that could be a sign of danger. You can also try jiggling the card reader. If it feels loose or comes out when you give it a tug, it's possible someone's tampered with it.

In same cases, you can turn on the Bluetooth in your phone and detect a skimmer device. If you turn on BT and see a device with a name made up of a long string of random numbers or letters, you should walk away. (Not all skimmers transfer dating using Bluetooth, so don't rely entirely on this method.)

If you're still in doubt, or you just want to be as safe as possible, pre-pay for your gas inside or, if you're looking to withdraw cash, go inside your bank for the transaction.

The price of gas right now alone again is extremely frustrating. The last thing we need in Central Texas is to be scammed on top of it. Make sure that you are very careful, and I hope that this was helpful to you. Thanks again the clerk who reminded me to be watchful.


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