ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman has announced that a recent statewide inspection sweep of retail gasoline dispensers has uncovered nine hidden credit-card skimmers, which criminals use to steal consumers’ credit- and debit-card information.
The skimmers were found at gas stations in both the Twin Cities metropolitan area and around Minnesota. Although he did not name the locations, Rothman said the Commerce Fraud Bureau is now pursuing criminal investigations in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.
“The Commerce Department is cracking down on these skimmers to protect Minnesota consumers against identity theft and fraud,” said Rothman. “We are working to make sure the state’s gas pumps are secure and customers’ credit- and debit-card information is safe. We know the threat is real, so we will stay vigilant and continue checking for these devices in our ongoing inspections of gas pumps.”
In March, the Commerce Department launched Minnesota’s first inspection sweep of gas stations to protect consumers against skimmers, which are small electronic devices that can be attached to or hidden inside gas pumps to secretly record customers’ credit- and debit-card information.
During a three-week period, Commerce inspectors and investigators checked nearly 8,500 credit-card readers on gas pumps at more than 1,000 gas stations across the state. The inspections prioritized stations with older pumps, which are considered more vulnerable, as well as stations located on heavily traveled streets and highways.
Rothman said the Commerce Department’s Weights and Measures inspectors are now looking for skimmers and any signs of tampering as part of their routine inspections of retail gas pumps for accuracy, safety and fuel quality.
The department has also started an outreach and education campaign with gas station operators, providing guidance on how to protect their pumps against skimmers, how to identify the devices and what to do if they find one.
Earlier this year, alert employees at a suburban Twin Cities gas station caught three men who were trying to install a skimmer in a pump.