Gas pump skimmer devices found at Sumter businesses

Police department offers tips to protect card, account information

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Criminals can be out in the open or sneak around, and the Sumter Police Department is warning residents of a device that may not be obvious to the everyday eye that can jeopardize your finances and personal information.

A number of gas pump skimmer devices have been used in recent weeks to fraudulently obtain credit/debit card account information at businesses in the city, according to Tonyia McGirt, public information officer of the police department.

"The most recent was earlier this week at a Broad Street convenience store where several were discovered during routine maintenance of the pumps," McGirt said.

She said there have been two confirmed locations where the decides have been found in recent weeks and that were multiple pumps affected.

Unlike some skimmer devices, which read card numbers and information when scanned, that are placed outside of a pump where you swipe a card, these pumps were opened to place the skimmers inside — where they are less detectable.

McGirt said there are steps customers can take to protect themselves while officers and detectives work to identify the suspect or suspects responsible for placing the devices:

- You can't go wrong with cash.

- If you use a credit or debit card, use one that requires a PIN number. Remember that someone using a stolen debit card can do more harm than using a stolen credit card.

- Check for the pump's security seal — usually a brightly colored strip of tape placed where the pump opens and closes. If it appears to be broken or tampered with, find another pump.

- Tug on the outer card reader before using and don't swipe if it's loose.

- Use pumps that are closest to the business and are more visible to employees.

- Check your banking information regularly to spot fraudulent activity. If you find a discrepancy, notify your bank or credit union immediately.

For more information or to report suspicious activity, contact the Sumter Police Department at (803) 436-2700.

Information can also be given anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers by logging onto www.P3tips.com and clicking on the "Submit a New Tip" tab or by downloading the new P3 Tips app for Apple and Android smart devices.