Alameda County

More Sophisticated Gas Pump Skimmers on the Rise in East Bay

Gas pump skimmers in Alameda County are getting more sophisticated when it comes to stealing your money.

That's the warning from authorities in Hayward and across Alameda County as they are seeing a spike in such cases. But there's a twist in how the thieves are getting access to credit card numbers, and it could involve organized crime.

Hayward police Detective Matt McMahon said they’re finding a lot more of a new type of skimmer, one that uses Bluetooth.

"It’s not your average criminal that’s employing this type of device," McMahon said. "It’s an electronic device being placed inside the gas pump panel. ... A thief will be able to remotely access the credit card information from the device."

Thieves get inside the pumps by picking the lock or prying open the panel door.

"In the past, the person would have to access the device again," McMahon said. "Now, they don’t have to ever recover the device."

If there's no security seal on the front of the gas pump panel, the pump could be compromised. That’s something police want consumers to pay close attention to.

Some consumers have stopped using their debit cards and started using credit cards at the gas pump, hoping that would help. Police say it does indeed help because the thieves won’t have access to a person's checking account.

An even better way to not be victimized: Have the clerk swipe your card inside instead of at the pump.

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