PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It's a crime most drivers never see coming.

A growing number of unsuspecting gas station customers are having their credit or debit card information stolen because of a skimmer device secretly placed in a gas pump. 

Now, there are smartphone apps designed to help keep people from getting ripped off.

[WATCH: How the apps work]

"I hear the reports all the time on TV," said David Deewey of Phoenix. "I just want to be safe. Money is hard to come by nowadays."

[MAP: 50 locations where gas skimmers have been found in Arizona]

Credit card skimming has become a serious problem in Arizona with a growing number of customers having their PIN and card information stolen.

[RELATED: Credit card skimmers target Anthem Circle K, victims out thousands of dollars]

Once a customer swipes their credit card, their personal information is then transferred via Bluetooth to a thief's computer or smartphone.

Ken Colburn, with Data Doctors, said there are at least two smartphone apps specifically designed to detect credit card skimming devices.

"Essentially, what the app is doing, it's profiling. It's looking for a very specific signature that would denote the potential skimmer because we know hardware being used in these Bluetooth devices have a specific signature. It's looking for that signature," Colburn said.

The free app for iPhones is called the Skimmer Locator, and the Android app is the Skim Plus.

[READ THIS: Do card skimmer detection apps work?]

Both simply require users to pull up to a gas pump and turn on the app.

If no questionable devices are found, the app will let you know.

The app will also indicate where skimming devices have been found.

Clarissa Bedonie said she shouldn't have to worry so much when filling her car up with gas.

"Every time I come up to a pump, I check it out," said Bedonie. "I do worry. I use my card a lot. I don't want to get ripped off."

Colburn said the app to detect card skimmers is not 100% guaranteed, so drivers still need to take precautions. If a pump looks like it's been tampered with, fill up someplace else, said Colburn.

He also suggests not using a debit card for gas purchases.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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