3/9/2016 10:53:34 AM
BLOOMINGTON – During National Consumer Protection Week, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced the launch of a new statewide crackdown on the threat of credit card skimmers hidden in pumps at gas stations throughout Minnesota.
Rothman made the announcement at Bobby & Steve’s Auto World in Bloomington, where alert employees recently caught three men who were trying to install a skimmer in a gas pump.
The Commerce Department’s Weights & Measures and Enforcement divisions will be conducting Minnesota’s first-ever inspection sweep of gas stations across the state to protect consumers against skimmers. The department is also starting an outreach and education campaign with gas station operators to help protect their customers.
“The Commerce Department is determined to prevent and halt this emerging threat to Minnesota consumers,” said Rothman. “We are taking steps to make sure pumps are secure and customers’ credit and debit card information is safe from criminals.”
A credit card skimmer is a small electronic device that can be attached to or hidden inside a gas pump or ATM. The device secretly records customers’ credit and debit card information, which criminals can then use to commit fraud and identity theft.
Credit card skimmers hidden in gas pumps have been a growing problem in other parts of the country and have begun to appear in Minnesota. Earlier this year, skimmers were found in pumps at two stations in Minneapolis and Robbinsdale, and three men were arrested at the Bobby & Steve’s station in Bloomington after being caught trying to install a skimmer.
Rothman said that, beginning this week, Commerce Department inspectors and investigators will be examining gas pumps statewide for skimmers.
In addition to checking retail gas pumps for accuracy, safety and fuel quality, the agency’s Weights & Measures inspectors will now also look for card skimmers and any signs of tampering at pumps as part of their inspection protocol.
Rothman said that, if a skimmer is found, the Commerce Fraud Bureau will pursue a criminal investigation in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.
The Commerce Department is also starting an outreach and education campaign with station operators, encouraging them to take extra steps to secure their pumps and regularly check them for skimmers and signs of tampering. The department is providing guidance to stations on how to deter people from installing skimmers, how to identify the devices and what to do if one is found.
In addition, the department plans a consumer education initiative with the message “See Something, Say Something” to encourage Minnesotans to notify station employees or the Commerce Department if they see someone tampering with a gas pump or anything suspicious at a pump.
Rothman offers the following tips to Minnesotans to help guard against credit card skimmer fraud:
If you have questions or concerns about possible fraud or identity theft, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).