JPSO warns of ‘skimming’ devices on gas pumps and ATMs

METAIRIE – The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about “skimming“ devices that can steal your credit card information and PIN at the ATM machine or gas pump.

The devices can be attached to the outside of machines anywhere credit cards are accepted and are designed to capture credit card information as it is entered during a transaction or record the user entering the card’s PIN.

There have been multiple complaints recently and “a number” of arrests have already been made, according to JPSO spokesman Lt. Jason Rivarde, but the illegal scam isn’t likely to end soon.

Despite the recent arrests, “these crimes can be very lucrative, there are always new groups entering the area to commit these types of offenses,” Rivarde said in a press release.

The devices vary in quality and sophistication, with the most insidious being nearly undetectable, Rivarde said.

Here are some tips from the JPSO on how to avoid falling victim to skimming devices:

  • When using any type of machine, be sure to look at the machine to see if anything seems out of place. If anything is attached to the machine that differs in color or construction, or simply appears out of place, be cautious about using it.
  • Before inserting your card into an ATM, give the housing that the card will be inserted into a gentle pull. Skimming devices attached will be pulled off with very little effort.
  • ATM skimming devices are designed to fit over the card slot and are typically color matched to the existing slot.
  • Before inserting your card into a gas pump, briefly scan the pump looking primarily for two things — the tamper-evident seal placed on the pump when inspected (if present), and a possible device across the top.
  • If the tamper-evident seal has been cut or damaged, do not use the machine and notify the gas station attendant. Not all pumps will have a seal.
  • The device seen in the photograph contains a camera aimed at capturing PIN numbers.
  • Always use your free hand to shield the keypad while entering a PIN number.
  • If you come in contact with a device, please call 911. Leave it in place whenever possible, and try to avoid handling it.

Anyone with information regarding the use of these skimmer devices is encouraged to contact our Economic Crimes Section at (504) 364-5300, or contact Crimestoppers.