EXCLUSIVE: Info thieves target gas pumps

June 18, 2008 4:08:39 PM PDT
We've learned that some people are having their identities stolen merely by filling up their gas tanks and paying for it with a credit card. The high price of gas is enough to make you feel like you're being held up at the pump. But, thanks to a new kind of identity theft, you may really be getting robbed.

Leslie Williams was shocked to hear that credit card information was being stolen at the Wawa gas pumps where she regularly fills up.

It is done with an electronic device called a skimmer.

Skimmers have been around for a while. They've been used on ATM machines, usually mounted over the card swipe. Thieves collect the information and then raid your bank account.

Now, they are starting to show up on gas pumps.

They were used at a Wawa in Bristol Township, Bucks County and at another one in New Castle, Delaware.

State Police and federal agents are now investigating. There may be hundreds of victims.

Most of us don't think twice when we swipe our cards at the pump. And there's nothing to tip us off that something's not right. The skimmers used on the gas pumps are well hidden.

"They design them so it's difficult for anyone to look at it and see that there's a device there," said Pennsylvania State Police trooper Jonathan Sunderlin.

Wawa is putting up warning signs at the gas pumps where the skimmers have been found. They are asking customers to be alert for suspicious activity around the pumps. Employees are also on the alert with daily inspections. "We have inspected every pump reader at every store in the chain," said Wawa spokesperson Lori Bruce.

Bottom line...police say the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to check your bank accounts frequently for any signs of unusual activity.