PINE BELT (WDAM) - With dozens of gas stations in the Pine Belt, reports of card skimmers on gas pumps are on the rise, and it is something authorities are trying to get a handle on.
"We've had a definite increase in card skimming, I have been a victim in recent months and believe it was from using my card at the gas pumps," Lamar County Sheriff's Department Maj. Brad Weathers said.
Weathers said it is easy for crooks to steal your credit card information. The skimming device can be placed on the inside of the pump or even the outside.
"It's fairly simple for them to put a skimming device over the top of the pump or an ATM," Weathers said. "They can either use that or have a camera and get your pin code when you put that in also."
At least one credit card used by Lamar County officials was compromised, but no others have been hit, according to Lamar County Administrator Jody Waits.
One key thing to remember is to be cautious when getting gas, and be observant for irregularities on the pump.
"Pay attention to the card pump, when you are putting your card in, compare it to the pump next to it, if the pump next to it looks different, find you another pump to go to," Weathers said.
Most pumps even have red tape somewhere on the machine, meaning it is safe to use.
"There's tape that's generally over there that's red, if they've tampered with it or its broken, the seals broken, it'll turn clear," Weathers said.
According to Weathers, there are a lot of different things you can look at to make sure you are not getting scammed.
"Even though it can often go unnoticed, there are some key signs from the outside of the pump that you can look for," Weathers said. "If its loose or looks altered in any way, it's best to go to another one."
Authorities suggest paying close attention to the box that houses the card reader. If it is been tampered with or looks odd, do not use it.
"You can even avoid the pumps that are furthest from the cashier, ones that may be out of view of cameras or the store windows," Weathers said. "Those pumps are sometimes the ones that are the most targeted."
If you do feel that you are a victim to card skimming, you can report it to your local law enforcement and monitor your card statements online.
"I would suggest not using your pin code or using it as a debit transaction, it's better to use it as a credit transaction and monitor your banking online," Weathers said.