HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville Police are offering some advice on how consumers can protect themselves against credit card theft.
Small devices, known as "skimmers", that are capable of collecting sensitive credit card data, have created an increase in criminal case reports. They have mainly been found at gas pumps. Huntsville authorities have recently obtained more information to help them regarding these incidents.
One skimmer is an external unit that sits over an existing credit card reader. It is a slightly larger device and may come off if grasped and pulled firmly. There might also be a small pinhole-sized camera near the keypad to capture someone entering their PIN number.
Another type of skimmer is placed on the inside of the pump. While it cannot be seen from the outside of the pump, checking around the area could keep someone's credit card information safe. Consumers are advised to look for pry mark or cut or removed stickers that would indicate that the pump's electronics are no longer sealed.
Officials also advise credit-card users that if they notice signs of a skimmer or tampering, they should move to a different pump and notify the clerk and police immediately.
Authorities say not to use a debit card at the pump, but a credit card that is not associated with a checking or savings account. If you must use a debit card, use the "credit" option, so that a PIN number will not be used. This will limit a criminal's options if the information is stolen.
Keeping finances in separate accounts can also minimize a person's losses if their information is stolen.
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