Credit card skimming prompts Secret Service alert

The U.S. Secret Service is issuing an alert to state and local law enforcement about credit card “skimming” at fueling stations.

The alert contains specific technical information about how to look for skimming devices at fueling stations, preserve evidence and investigate skimming operations.

Federal agents based in field offices and electronic and cyber-enabled financial crimes task forces all across the country are also fanning out to provide assistance to local law enforcement departments, authorities said.

Skimming is a technique using electronic devices to commit credit card fraud.

In recent years, skimming operations have become more complex, with larger losses due to new technology and ties to organized crime.

“Payment card skimming devices continue to appear at fueling stations throughout the country,” the Secret Serice said in a Feb. 16 statement.

Once a device is installed on a credit card reader, stolen data can be accessed remotely.

Skimming is common at gas pumps because they are typically unattended, authorities said.

“This level of anonymity makes investigations, arrests and prosecutions more difficult but not impossible,” the Secret Service statement said in its recent statement.

Credit card fraud is a serious crime, a federal offense in many cases, carrying stiff penalties including heavy fines and lengthy prison sentences.

“For many, the potential reward outweighs the risk of being caught,” the Secret Service said.