There have been a number of social media users revealing credit card skimmers they’ve found in gas stations and convenience stores. These devices are usually designed to mimic the aesthetic of popular POS systems and credit card input devices and often feature an SD card slot that stores information swiped or keyed into the skimmer.
Whoever installed the skimmer then takes the SD card/USB flash drive attached to the info-stealing device. They then have access to a user’s credit card information, which they can then use to make purchases.
The FBI estimates that nearly $1 billion is stolen/charged to people’s accounts fraudulently due to credit card skimming fraud every year.
TikToker Milan Dhanju (@milandhanju0) is yet another user on the popular social media platform who claims to have found a credit card skimmer. It appears that they found it at a Shell gas station and they allegedly discovered not one, but two devices aimed at stealing customer data.
@milandhanju0 Be careful when filling up gas y’all. This is some crazy stuff. #gasstation #bayarea #california #fraud ♬ original sound – Milan Dhanju
In the video, Dhanju points to a card skimmer, along with a faux number face plate placed over the fuel pump’s alpha-numeric keypad, which he pries off with a screwdriver.
“Holy shit I thought it was only this. But look at this, look at this baby. What the fuck?” he says. A text overlay on the video reads, “Scimmers at gas stations! Be careful when swiping your card!”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Dhanju via TikTok comment and Shell via email for further information.
TikTokers who saw Dhanju’s post responded with a variety of different comments. Some TikTokers who said they worked at gas stations stated that they purportedly search for skimmers as part of their daily work routine.
“I work at a gas station and we have to check for skimmers everyday,” one wrote.
Others stated that they never pay with their card, but rather their phone’s “tap to pay” option. Either that or they go inside the station itself to pay for the gas they’re buying at the pump.
According to Verify This, tapping to pay is as secure as inserting the chip on one’s card at a register. However, The New York Times also writes that “they’re not necessarily private,” citing findings from the Surveillance Technology Oversight project which analyzed the NYC Subway System’s implementation of contactless payments. The media outlet stated that users’ personal data could be used by surveillance of government agencies.
But tap-to-pay does combat skimmers because every time a transaction is made using this method, a one-time encryption code is implemented. This means that no tap-to-pay transaction is the same. So even if someone manages to steal the data for that transaction, it cannot be used on another transaction, according to Launchu.
In short, if you’re worried about skimmers stealing your credit card information, it’s probably in your best interest to get a card with tap-to-pay functionality or use NFC digital wallet functionality on your smartphone. Just make sure your phone is password protected and no one else can gain access to it to prevent criminals from going on a digital shopping spree.