KVUE News Verify: Is Bluetooth technology the best way to detect credit card skimmers?

Erica Proffer, KVUE 10:29 PM. CST January 08, 2018

The Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told KVUE last year, your phone can be your best protection against thieves at the gas pump.

“Simply take you phone. Go to settings. Hit the Bluetooth.  Let it search. If everything looks clean, you’re good to go. If there’s something suspicious, I probably wouldn’t use that pump,” said Miller August 2017.

The Texas Food and Fuel Association says this is too unreliable to use.

“Unfortunately, 99 percent of the time, that is a false positive,” said Paul Hardin, President of Texas Food & Fuel Association.

Miller told KVUE to look for a long sequence of numbers and letters. That would let you know there is a skimmer nearby

“They’re going to come and go. That’s a lot of vehicles and everything in your surrounding that’s Bluetooth enabled,” said Hardin.

We called car dealerships to check.

Workers at Maxwell Ford, Clay Cooley Nissan and First Texas Honda said the Bluetooth devices in their cars will say name of the device. They said cars wouldn’t give a long sequence of random characters.

So, we checked back with Austin Police Department since that’s where TDA got their information for the tip.

APD Detective Mike Morgovnik told us today there is no way to 100 percent use this to spot a skimmer.

Morgovnik said he didn’t recall any consumer tips of strange numbers that led to skimmers being found in Austin.  He did caution there are tips that led nowhere.

So, unfortunately, this technology-savvy way of spotting skimmers, is FALSE.

However, everyone we spoke with agrees: If you do see something suspicious, look for the security seal.  If thieves put a skimmer that uses Bluetooth on the pump, they have to get inside first.

In response, the Texas Department of Agriculture sent KVUE the following statement:

Checking for Bluetooth signals is just one tip to help consumers prevent being a victim of credit card skimming at the gas pump. In our Texas Department of Agriculture video about skimmers, Commissioner Miller also mentions several other tips, including verifying the card reader on the pump, checking the security tape on the pump case and using a fueling station within easy view of the clerk. It is important for consumers to have every tool possible to protect themselves against these thieves who want to steal their personal information. Overwhelmingly, the best thing consumers can do to avoid getting skimmed at the pump is, if they use a credit card, check their statement. More often than not, tips about possible skimming activity comes from questionable charges that show up on credit card bills after someone fills up at the pump.

Tap here for tips from the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Tap here for tips from the Texas Food & Fuel Association.


Credit card skimming at the pump by kvuenews on Scribd


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