CREDIT CARD “SKIMMING” DEVICES AT GAS STATIONS AND ATM MACHINES
Article by Sgt. Bobbie Pelletier
Credit card and Debit Card “skimming devices” have stolen millions of dollars from consumers over the past couple years. Victims have been found all over the United States and more recently here in Hermon over the past few months. This is a fairly new fraudulent crime which has been working its way up the New England coast towards Maine. More and more cases of this card skimming trend are now being found here in Central and Southern Maine.
“Skimmers” are criminals who use fake card swipe machines and steal credit and debit card information (along with pin numbers). Skimmers have stolen millions of dollars from unsuspecting consumers at gas pumps and ATM machines by cloning your card information.
Skimming devices placed on gas pumps and ATM machines are almost undetectable. The devices are shaped and disguised to blend into the specific model of the machine. The skimmer goes in between the credit-card reader and the circuit board and collects data when your card is inserted. Some devices extract the credit card information, while others are Bluetooth capable and send information directly back to the criminal.
Some skimmer criminals also place “pin-hole cameras” which are attached to the specific machine. These cameras are hidden in attached trim pieces that are blended to match the existing machines trim. They have also been located hidden in attached brochure holders that have been added to the machine. These cameras face and point towards the existing number board on the machine. Criminals can record and collect your pin information when typing in your debit card pin number.
Once criminals collect your card information they then produce fake cards with your information on them. Criminals can then use the cards themselves or sell the cards to other criminals who want to scam your information.
For more information and actual photos of different types of card skimmers and pin-hole cameras click onto the web address below:
HOW TO MINIMIZE RISKS POSED BY CARD SKIMMERS
- Totally avoid becoming a victim and use cash only at the pump. This may also lower the price per gallon by paying with cash at certain locations.
- If using a card at the pump or at the ATM, pull onto the card reader that is attached to the machine. A lot of the skimmer devices will pull off as they are simply placed over the existing card reader. If you do locate a skimming device, PLEASE contact the local police department and report it immediately.
- If using a debit card at the pump, have the card processed as a credit card transaction. The pump will ask if the card is debit or credit once inserted. Select credit so you do not have to enter your pin number at the pump. Your purchase will still be debited from your checking account.
- Look for the fake “pin-hole cameras” as described earlier. These may be difficult to detect but they are usually located in a relatively close location facing the number pad located on the machine.
- Monitor your bank and credit card accounts regularly to identify unauthorized transactions.
Tax Refund Fraud and IRS Telephone Scams
Article by Sgt. Bobbie Pelletier
It’s that time of year again when everyone has to file their taxes. In past years people have filed their taxes to only find out from the IRS that someone has already filed taxes in their name fraudulently. We would like to share a few tips to help reduce the risk of becoming a victim of tax refund fraud.
- File your tax return as early as possible. If you can beat the criminals to the punch and your legitimate return is filed first, then any subsequent fraudulent return filings will be rejected.
- Do not provide any personal information in response to requests through email, especially emails that appear to come from the IRS.
- If a member of your family has passed away during the tax year, file a “final” tax return for that individual as soon as possible. Thieves are notorious for filing returns for deceased individuals.
- Be suspicious of phone calls from the IRS. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, request the person’s “IRS Badge Number” immediately and contact the IRS independently to verify the badge number. The IRS will rarely contact a taxpayer by phone and will do so only after many notices have been sent by mail.
You should also be aware of IRS phone call scams. The IRS will not call you and demand immediate payment without having sent you a bill in the mail. The IRS will allow you to appeal any amount you may owe. They will not require you to pay your taxes in a certain way, such as a prepaid debit card. They will never ask you for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone. The IRS will also never threaten to have the police or other agencies arrest you for not paying your taxes.