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How to spot card skimmers found at multiple Colorado Springs 7-Elevens

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - A 7-Eleven employee told KRDO13 Investigates he’s seen an increased number of card skimmers in the last two months, but he said they are easy to spot.

Last weekend, James Pugh was working at a 7-Eleven on Union Boulevard in Colorado Springs when he noticed something weird about the card machine. He said the tap-to-pay sign wasn’t lighting up as bright as usual.

After looking at it more closely, he said the keypad was flushed with the screen. He had seen this before and knew it was a card skimmer.

“The screen is supposed to be raised above the rest of the keypad, so when it's flush to it, there's obviously something on top,” Pugh said. “(The skimmer) peels right off.”

This was the third card skimmer Pugh has seen at a 7-Eleven in just the last two months.

“You just have to watch to make sure nobody slides one on, but you can't stare at it 100% of the time,” Pugh said. “With how quick they can slide them on, and it fits over perfectly, it looks almost exactly like the keypad itself, except for slightly higher up.”

The U.S. Secret Service, which investigates card skimming across the country, said it has seen an increase in illegal activity in the last two years. The Colorado Springs Police Department said it is investigating 22 active card skimming cases dating back to last May.

“It's a little bit of glue and they stick it right on there. It takes 2 seconds, I'm sure,” Pugh said. “Someone will say, ‘Give me a pack of smokes.’ I’ll turn around and they’ll slap it on real quick. That's all it takes.”

Another 7-Eleven on Widefield Boulevard in Security-Widefield was also targeted. Jade Aundrea was waiting in line about to pay when an employee pulled off a card skimmer on the payment machine. Aundrea took a picture and posted it on Facebook.

The skimmer looks nearly identical to the actual keypad. CSPD said most skimmers instantly send card information directly to the suspect. It’s why they said it’s difficult to track down customers who may have been affected, so they recommend customers report any suspicious activity in their bank accounts.

“7-Eleven, they're easy targets, that's for sure,” Pugh said. “There's a lot of them and people don't pay attention.”

KRDO13 Investigates reached out to corporate 7-Eleven about the rise in card skimmers at its stores. They provided the following response:

“7-Eleven takes allegations involving card skimmers very seriously. 7-Eleven inspects card readers regularly and cooperates closely with law enforcement regarding related investigations. Customers who believe they may be impacted should call 1-800-255-0711,” 7-Eleven, Inc.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the card skimming incident at the Security-Widefield 7-Eleven. It declined an interview but said, “At this time we don’t know how long it was on or how many people were victimized. It will take some forensic work to make that determination.”

The U.S. Secret Service has several precautions consumers can take to protect themselves against card skimmers:

  • Inspect ATMs, point-of-sale terminals, and other card readers before using. Look for anything loose, crooked, damaged, or scratched. Don't use a card reader if you notice anything unusual.
  • If you use a debit card at a gas station, run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN. That way, the PIN is safe, and the money isn’t deducted immediately from your account. If that’s not an option, cover your hand when entering your PIN. Scammers sometimes use tiny pinhole cameras, situated above the keypad area, to record PIN entries. Use ATMs in a well-lit, indoor location, which are less vulnerable targets.
  • Be alert for skimming devices in tourist areas, which are popular targets.
  • Use debit and credit cards with chip technology. In the U.S., there are fewer devices that steal chip data versus magnetic strip data.
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Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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