The Lake Havasu City Police Department wants to make the community aware of recent fraudulent activity affecting local gas stations. Over the past week, officers have taken multiple reports of credit cards that have been compromised. Six credit card skimmers have been located and seized from four separate gas stations in Lake Havasu City. Skimmers have been found at a station in the 1700 block of Kiowa Boulevard North, a station in the 1000 block of Acoma Boulevard South and also in the 2000 block of Palo Verde Boulevard North. It also appears that two additional skimmers may have been recently removed by the suspect(s) from gas pumps at a station in the 200 block of Swanson Avenue.
Additional skimmers were found recently in Needles and Kingman. The skimmers had been attached inside of the gas pumps and not immediately visible to station staff or the consumer. It is unknown how many people may have had their credit cards compromised or who may be responsible for installing the illegal skimmers. Dozens of reports have been taken so far. The Lake Havasu City Police Department began notifying local gas stations after the skimmers started to be discovered earlier this week.
Credit Card skimming is the act of attaching an illegal device that copies and stores consumer credit card information to retail devices such as ATM’s, fuel dispensers, and point of sale systems, according to the Weights and Measures Service Division. The copied information can be retrieved wirelessly and almost immediately by the criminal and used to perform fraudulent transactions using the stolen credit card information.
Credit card skimmers can come in different forms. Attached is a picture of one recently discovered, however an internet search will uncover many other types of skimmers.
Here are several tips to help prevent from becoming a victim:
1) Always use credit cards to pay for gas at the pump. If you have to use a debit card, run it as credit to avoid having to enter a PIN number which could allow a criminal to withdraw money from your bank account.
2) Wiggle the exterior of the credit card reader before inserting your credit card. (This tip also applies to ATM’s) If any part comes loose, do not use it.
3) Some gas stations use tamper resistant security tape. Make sure the tape is not voided or broken. However, counterfeit stickers have also been used by suspects to cover up the broken tape so this is not a fool proof safeguard. You can look at other pumps to see if the security tape is the same.
4) Use pumps in well-lit areas and that are positioned in a clear view of store employees.
5) Report your concerns and any suspicious activity to station employees or law enforcement.
6) Sign up for alerts from your credit card company and monitor card activity on a regular basis.
7) Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t appear right, do not use the pump.
8) Pay the station attendant directly.
Additional consumer tips about how to protect yourself from fraud can be found at the Arizona Attorney General websitewww.azag.gov/consumer/card-skimmers. A “gas skimmers” map updated by the Department of Weights and Measures is also located on the Attorney General’s website showing locations around Arizona where skimmers have been found. If you discover you have been a victim, you are encouraged to contact the Lake Havasu City Police Department.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Lake Havasu City Police Department. Silent Witness will pay a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect(s) involved. Anonymous information can be called into Lake Havasu Silent Witness at 928-854-TIPS (8477). Citizens can utilize the police department’s anonymous text messaging tip service by texting LHCPD and your message to “CRIMES” or 274637. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through a web page based tip service atwww.tipsoft.com or via the “TipSubmit” mobile application. Anyone using Android, Windows or Apple platforms can download the LHCPD app and submit a tip through the app as well.
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