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.

 

Reporter

Jason Barry is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports highlighting local restaurants with major health code violations.

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(9) comments

TCAZ

Change the device name on you cell phone to HC-05 or HC-06 and turn bluetooth on before you roll into a gas station and anyone using the app will get an alert of a skimmer (but it will be you). Like has already been stated ... the app is only looking for the name of the bluetooth device connected inline w/ the card reader. The crooks don't bother to change the device id or the password (1234).

scott31337

All it does is detect Bluetooth. False sense of security. Gently pull on the card reader, if it doesn't move, you're good. If it comes off or moves abnormally, don't use it!

AZRepublican

Use QT stations because if those pumps are opened without the proper pin code being put into the pumps first it will lock down and has to be manually retest by a QT pump technician and NOT one of the zit face kids working the front counter.

thranx

Get an EV and forget about gas stations altogether.

George Leonard

This app detects criminal activity, causing more criminals to go to prison. When that happens, it will "break up their family" - so this app must obviously HATE FAMILIES.

TCAZ

Use a credit card ... NOT a debit card (w/ a pin) at gas pumps ... problem solved.

Have the station attendant inside check for skimmers w/ their cell phone once a day!! (what a concept). Start a business and sell skimmer monitors to stations for a fee ... let them put one of your stickers on their pumps/doors stating they actively monitor for skimmers!! (what a concept .. great add on for the vending machine guy!!).

Tony G

It seems like the best thing to do for gas stations is to scan for these devices while looking for people hanging around. Bluetooth has a short range and the perpetrator would literally have to sit in the parking lot or very close by to pick up the information. If a device is found, and someone is just hanging around, you might just catch a thief. Pretty much makes for a good stupid criminal story.

Daffy

Parece que lo mejor que puede hacer para las estaciones de servicio es buscar estos dispositivos mientras busca personas que andan por ahí. Bluetooth tiene un alcance corto y el autor literalmente tendría que sentarse en el estacionamiento o muy cerca para recoger la información. Si se encuentra un dispositivo y alguien está dando vueltas, es posible que atrapes a un ladrón. Prácticamente es una buena historia criminal estúpida.[censored]

Daffy

Hey, they have an app that tells your house to extend hydrolic legs and run away from home invaders and packag thiefs . Then cone walking back later when they are gone . Γεια σου, έχουν μια εφαρμογή που λέει στο σπίτι σας να επεκτείνει τα υδρόλυτα πόδια και να ξεφύγει από τους εισβολείς στο σπίτι και τους κλέφτες. Στη συνέχεια, ο κώνος περπατάει πίσω αργότερα όταν φύγουν.

Geia sou, échoun mia efarmogí pou léei sto spíti sas na epekteínei ta ydrólyta pódia kai na xefýgei apó tous eisvoleís sto spíti kai tous kléftes. Sti synécheia, o kónos perpatáei píso argótera ótan fýgoun. [censored]

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