Police on Monday warned motorists not to use credit or debit cards at the pumps of a Circle K gas station on N.C. 54 after officers found data-theft equipment for the third time since March.
The devices, called skimmers, can capture account information that can be retrieved by someone who could use the information fraudulently.
“The Carrboro Police Department recommends that patrons of this establishment do not pay by credit card at the gas pumps. Instead, we recommend you go inside the store to pay,” police spokesman Capt. Chris Atack said.
Officers found four skimmers over the weekend by taking apart pumps at the station at 102 N.C. 54, at the entrance to Carrboro Plaza, he said. Someone looking at the outside of the pumps wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual, he said.
“The newly discovered skimmers could not be detected wirelessly and were only discovered after a physical inspection by officers of each of the twelve pumps located at the gas station,” Atack said.
It was the third instance since March of skimmers being inside pumps, Atack said. Fuel pump master keys can be purchased online or manufactured by someone with key-making skills, he said. Once the person has a key or finds some other way to defeat the lock, it only takes a few minutes to install the skimmers, he said.
The data then could be transmitted wirelessly to someone within a certain radius who has an established connection, he said.
“If it’s 50 feet, you could be over at the Arby’s, you could be sitting at the red light, you could be waiting to go out of the place, you could be sitting across the way at the Wells Fargo ATM, you could be using the Red Box. It’s difficult” to know, he said.
Police have asked gas station employees across the area to report anything unusual, he said. They’re also working with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to find a solution. The department is responsible for inspecting gas pumps and certifying that they give accurate readings.
Meanwhile, police suggested that anyone who has used credit or debit cards at gas stations check their bank accounts for any activity that should not be there.
“We don’t think it’s just a Carrboro thing,” Atack said. “We think it’s a larger organization, and we’re trying to piece together who they are, where they are and what they’re doing.”