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Pumping Gas

Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office would like to warn citizens of a recent and reoccurring trend of credit/debit card fraud and identity theft facilitated through the illegal use of credit card skimming devices placed on gasoline/fuel pumps. A few have recently been located in the south county, more specifically in the City of Carpinteria.

Identity theft is a national problem that is significantly affecting citizens in Santa Barbara County. One way thieves are obtaining victim’s credit and debit card information is through the use of illegal card skimming devices being surreptitiously placed in fuel pumps. When an unsuspecting citizen swipes their debit or credit card into the pay station on the fuel pump, these illegal devices capture the card and pin information. The thieves then use the stolen information to commit identity theft and other financial crimes. Losses from an undetected single illegal skimming device on a fuel pump can be between $50,000 and $100,000.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office encourages the public to consider the following steps when purchasing fuel in order to reduce the risk of being victimized by identity thieves:

1. Pay with cash whenever possible.

2. If paying with a credit/debit card, go inside the gas station instead of paying at the pump.

3. Look for security seals/stickers on fuel pumps. If the seals/stickers are broken, cut or read ‘VOID,’ do not use that pump and immediately report your observations to gas station personnel.

The City of Carpinteria contracts with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for police services.