Sheriff’s Office warns about gas pump skimming risks

The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office is warning locals about gas pump skimming that’s been reported locally.

Over the past year, TPSO deputies have investigated reports of credit or debit cards being compromised at gasoline pumps, resulting in unauthorized charges.

TPSO Chief Criminal Deputy Col. Terry Daigre said new technology in skimming efforts make it hard for law enforcement to stay ahead of the game.

“New technology is outpacing law enforcement’s ability to easily detect when these types of crimes are committed,” said Col. Daigre. “It is important to pay close attention to credit card and bank statements so that fraud can be detected. If it is, then we want people to call us so that we can properly investigate. Credit card skimming devices, including those with Bluetooth technology, are tools criminals are using more and more to steal from our law-abiding citizens. They are often undetectable to the untrained eye and by the time someone realizes they have been victimized, days or weeks can pass.”

Terrebonne detectives and road deputies got a crash course this past week in how complex these schemes have become from agents of Commissioner Mike Strain’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Weights and Measures Division.

LDAF agents have aided local, state and federal agencies with such cases, often partnering with the U.S. Secret Service.

Col. Daigre added that convenience store employees must also stay alert and monitor what is taking place at gas pumps, noting that thieves now have the ability to open pump housing and alter electronics deep inside their devices.

“If you see someone compromising the cabinet on the pump, please call authorities to check that pump,” Col. Daigre said. “We are depending on you as a first line of defense.”

Col. Daigre and Commissioner Strain offer the following suggestions to consumers:

* Whenever possible, do not use the debit card function at the gas pump. Use it as a credit card in order to protect your pin number.

* Monitor your debit/credit card activity online and contact your bank to report unrecognized charges.

* When using a credit card, try to use a pump easily seen by employees. Less visible pumps are commonly targeted because skimmers can be installed in short periods of time.

* Check pump card readers for signs of forced entry like bent panels or broken security tape.