The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office is alerting residents and business owners of a scam recently reported in nearby jurisdictions that can have lasting financial impacts on its victims.
Authorities in Pooler, GA recently recovered a "skimmer" discovered on a gas pump at an undisclosed convenience store. This type of small, electronic device is often used for the purpose of collecting data from the magnetic strip whenever a credit/debit card is swiped.
Self-service payment systems, such as those found at gas pumps, kiosks, and ATMs, are the most common targets for these devices.
Potentially harmful data is collected by these devices, to include the name of the account holder, the card/account number, expiration date, personal identification number, and verification/CVV code. This data is then usually mined to create fake or "cloned" cards, to directly make unauthorized charges, or even to attempt to take over a victim's account.
Skimmers are often difficult for merchants and consumers to visibly detect, and depending on how the stolen data is mined and used, it may be months or even years before the effects upon a victim's financial identity are realized.
Business owners are encouraged to regularly inspect any self-service payment systems in use for any signs of tampering or alterations. Many card-reading devices have anti-tamper stickers in place that would be damaged by the installation of a skimming device.
Machines that are located the furthest from surveillance cameras are the ones most often targeted. Repositioning existing cameras and/or adding additional surveillance cameras may help in identifying suspect(s) who attempt to utilize one of these devices.
Consumers are reminded to frequently monitor their credit card accounts and bank statements for any unauthorized charges. To combat this growing issue, many ATMs have a picture of what the card-swiping module should look like, so users can identify any unusual modifications. If any suspicious markings, holes, or additions to a unit are noted, consumers should avoid using the machine and notify a representative for the business and/or law enforcement.
If you believe you may have been a victim of such a scam, notify your bank, credit union, and card provider immediately and contact your local law enforcement agency to file a report.
To report crime, citizens can call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC (274-6372) or text the word TIPSC with a message to CRIMES (274637).