Quarles warns of goblins at the gas pump

Published 8:03 am Thursday, October 31, 2019

FRANKFORT — This Halloween, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles warns Kentuckians to beware of goblins at the gas pump as criminals try to steal sensitive credit card information from Kentuckians.

“During this spooky time, Kentuckians should not only look out for gremlins and ghosts, but beware of goblins at the gas pump who try to steal thousands of dollars from Kentuckians each and every day,” Commissioner Quarles said. “The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is committed, now more than ever, to supporting law enforcement in its efforts to reduce credit card theft and place criminal elements behind bars.”

Under state law, motor fuel pumps must be inspected by KDA personnel once a year. Inspectors test pumps to ensure that the amount of fuel dispensed matches the amount shown on the pump and check to make sure each pump is in proper working order. In 2016, KDA began inspecting for skimmers.

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In September, the KDA discovered 10 credit card skimmers at gas stations in the central Kentucky region in a single week. That brings the total number of skimmers caught by the Department to 17 this calendar year, up from seven discovered last year. KDA has discovered 33 skimmers since it began inspecting for them in 2016.

“I would like to thank our hard-working KDA inspectors for taking on the additional responsibility of inspecting for skimmers to protect Kentuckians at the gas pump,” Commissioner Quarles said. “The busy holiday travel season is approaching, and we urge motorists to be especially vigilant during this happy time of the year.”

Kentuckians can help protect themselves at the gas pump by looking for signs of tampering, including:

• Scratches or other damage around locks or doors;

• Components that look different from the rest of the device or from other pumps (such as a skimmer placed over a card reader);

• A loose card reader; and

• Security tape that is broken or does not adhere to the pump.

Authorities suggest filling up your vehicle at a pump as close to the attendant station as possible – thieves often place skimmers in pumps out of sight of the attendant. Motorists may avoid the risk by paying in cash.

Consumers who find evidence that a pump has been tampered with are advised to bring it to the attention to the retailer and local law enforcement. To report possible tampering to the KDA, call 502-573-0282 or email ag.web@ky.gov. Please include the retailer’s name and location, the pump number, and the fuel grade.

The National Association for Convenience Stores says a single compromised pump can capture data from 30 to 100 cards per day.