Startling number of skimming devices discovered at local gas stations

Published: Oct. 28, 2016 at 2:27 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A total of 78 skimming devices have been found in Arizona so far this year, compared to 11 skimmers that were found in our state in 2015. That's according to new information released by the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

A skimmer is a piece of technology thieves attach to a machine to intercept credit and debit card data, usually placed inside the pump, which makes it difficult to detect.

In the last five months, gas station skimmers have been found at nine different locations across Tucson.
Just last week, two skimming devices were found at the Shell station off of gr ant and Dragoon.

The AG's office said they have been urging gas stations all over the area to have their employees do daily checks of each pump, to make sure none of them have been tampered with. The AG's office conducted an "Intense Sweep" of Arizona gas stations, since Labor Day Weekend, and discovered dozens of skimmers.

Tucson News Now spoke with folks filling up, who were surprised when we told them two skimmers were found at a Circle K near Valencia and Country Club.

"It's scary. It's never happened to me before. It's just terrible. I think we're going to have to start using cash, Christine Scira said.

Tucson News Now: "Do you know what to look for when you pull up at the pump?"

Jesus Arellano: "No I don't, I don't at all. I just use my card and pump gas. It's very scary but I'm just glad I heard about it."

Tucson News Now also spoke with Vantage West, a local credit union who is part of a "skimming alliance" with our law enforcement.

When their customers notify them of fraud, they analyze the location and data to see if it could be skimmers. The manager said criminals are getting more crafty, even using blue tooth technology.

"It's all - the data that's transmitted is able to be captured remotely, so criminals don't even have to be in the vicinity or every come back to retrieve the device,"  Tim Strasser, with the Vantage West Credit Union said.

The AG's office just released this statement on their plan to protect consumers from their Weights and Measures Department, "We are going to maintain our intensive inspection of gas pumps in the state. Until we can find a way to prevent the installation of skimmers, we're going to protect consumers the best way possible – removing the skimmers from the pumps."

So, what can you do to protect yourself? Detectives say, check out the gas pump you are using. It should have a safety seal – if it doesn't you may want to go elsewhere and keep a close eye on your bank statements.

For a full list of skimming devices discovered in Arizona, click here.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.