Calgary police say card skimming more common at pumps
Man’s post of a device from a Husky gas pump went viral
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Taking a few seconds to check the pumps before you pay could ease a world of headaches according to Calgary police.
It’s habit for many to cover pin passwords at gas stations, banks and merchant pin pads. But what Calgary police said most people don’t know is electronic skimming machines are becoming increasingly common in most jurisdictions – including Calgary.
“I would say obviously card skimming does happen in Calgary, but I wouldn’t say it’s any more prevalent than any other city,” said Staff Sgt. Jeff Bell with CPS economic crimes. “Crimes are always evolving in that point of sale has been targeted for a long period of time, and the banks have done an excellent job in tackling the issues that were arising.”
Bell said gas stations are easier targets now because they typically aren’t manned 24 hours a day and fraudsters can easily install their card scanning machines without being noticed.
A viral Facebook post out of Calgary reaching more than 51,000 shares, showed a lucky situation, in one gas station goer’s case: when he went to pay he pulled his card and the skimming device with it last Sunday.
“I knew right away it was a skimmer,” said Jeremy Ensign, the victim. “When I saw the chip and wires I knew right away…I was pretty choked, but what can you do?”
He did report it to police immediately, took photos of the device and posted on Facebook.
He was paying with a debit card, which police said is still at risk of being compromised by this type of machine.
“Unfortunately he’s very lucky in the sense that he recognized what was happening,” Bell said. “We call those card overlays, and we have noticed that there has been an increase at gas stations.”
The only way to combat this emerging risk according to Bell is to check the pump before paying. Often these devices will look out of place, be crooked, wobbly and all around not very secure. Tugging at the card reading block is a good way to be sure.
“Look around at the other pumps to ensure they all look the same,” Bell said. “If they don’t there’s probably something wrong.”
Another way to be safe is to go inside to pay for gas whenever possible, and always monitor banking information.
Bell said if a Calgarian feels they’ve been victimized by any fraud scheme, they should call the CPS non-emergency line, and get a hold of their bank to change information and passwords.
“I’m debating using cash from now on,” Ensign said.