With the long Memorial Day holiday weekend quickly approaching and summer travel season coming up, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) inspectors are on the lookout for credit card skimmers in motor fuel pumps across the Commonwealth.
In a news conference earlier this week, Quarles said the skimmers are used to steal credit card information so criminals can use that data to make purchases that are charged on the victims’ cards. For the fourth consecutive year, Quarles noted their inspectors will check for skimmers in addition to their normal duties at no additional costs to Kentucky taxpayers.
According to state officials, KDA inspectors were involved in a 2017 case that resulted in the arrest of eight people in a credit card skimming scheme in which some 7,000 unique card numbers were compromised in several Louisville-area retail locations.
Under state law, motor fuel pumps must be inspected by KDA personnel once a year. Inspectors test to ensure that the amount of fuel dispensed matches the amount shown on the pump, and check to make sure each pump is in proper working order.
Commissioner Quarles advises motorists to be on the lookout for evidence that a motor fuel pump has been compromised. He notes signs of tampering include scratches or other damage around locks or doors, components that look different from the rest of the device or from other pumps (such as a skimmer placed over a card reader), a loose card reader, and security tape that is broken or does not adhere to the pump.
Authorities suggest filling up your vehicle at a pump as close to the attendant station as possible because thieves often place skimmers in pumps out of sight of the attendant. Officials say motorist may avoid the risk by paying in cash.
State officials say consumers who find evidence that a pump has been tampered with are advised to bring it to the attention of the retailer and local law enforcement. To report possible tampering to the KDA, call (502) 573-0282 or email email@example.com. You need to include the retailer’s name and location, the pump number, and the fuel grade.
The National Association for Convenience Stores says a single compromised pump can capture data from 30 to 100 cards per day.