Det. Lt. Darren Navratil of the Woodward Police Department is urging folks to be vigilant when using their debit or credit cards in public placing after discovering a strange charge on his account.
Navratil said he noticed a strange $25 charge on his account and immediately reported it to his bank, which then found a second attempted charge well over $5,000.
He’s not sure when or where his information was stolen, whether in Woodward or in Oklahoma City after a recent trip, but he encourages everyone to be careful at gas pumps, ATMs and everywhere else that utilizes a card reader.
“The thing people need to be aware of is - look at the gas pump,” Navratil warned. “If it looks like the credit card reader is out of place or it looks like it’s bigger than it should be… If it looks like something has been added to it you probably ought to move on to another pump.”
Don’t be afraid to move on if something doesn’t feel or look right.
“People need to feel them,” Navratil said. “Grab those things (credit card readers) and shake them and see if they’re loose. If they’re loose move to another one.”
Using the pumps closest to the building may also help limit risk as scammers are less likely to tamper with a pump where they are more likely to be seen, Navratil said.
However, not all skimmers are external.
“I did learn from a local FBI agent that they’re moving away from external skimmers and they’re actually installing them inside the pumps,” Navratil explained. “They transmit information via bluetooth so all they have to do is gain access to a pump one time.”
Security tape is typically used along the seam of a gas pump to show if the unit has been tampered with, Navratil said. Look for the tape along the seam of the unit and if it is torn, defaced, or gone, it might be wise to move to another pump.
There are apps that advertise the ability to scan card readers and alert to any suspicious readings, however Navratil is uncertainly of the accuracy of the apps and offers that vigilance is the best safeguard.
“I think the best safeguard is to just be vigilant,” Navratil said. “Check your accounts regularly. I look at my bank account everyday. If you catch it and you go to your bank or call your credit card company, they’re gonna take care of you. I think that’s the best defense against it.”
If your information has been stolen, it’s important to make a formal police report so the department can track trends, possibly leading to the suspect card reader.
“Without the information of when and where it happened there’s not a lot we can do to prevent it,” Navratil said.
Navratil said there haven't been any reports he's aware of involving skimming locally, but there are reports involving fraud or stolen information.