Gas stations beefing up security in wake of ‘skimmers’

Posted at 9:32 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 22:44:04-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. --Thieves stealing right from your credit card as you pump gas. It's called skimming and it's been happening right here in West Michigan.  Investigators found skimmers at a gas station in Alto and Grand Rapids and it's leaving gas station owners on edge.  They're now doing everything they can to protect their customers and one station owner closed his credit card readers outside to minimize the chance of fraud.

Vik Singh owns the Marathon station on Burton Street and  Kalamazoo Avenue, as well as the BP on the corner of Hall and Division.

'In order to protect everyone we have to make them walk into the store," Singh said. 

He's never experienced skimming at either of his gas stations and he's hoping to keep it that way,

"I think it’s up to the stores themselves to take precaution on a regular basis."

From monitoring security tapes, to checking inside the pump more often, it's safe to say owners are beefing up security to offer better protection.

"Twice a day.... that’s what we’ve been doing going out there and opening them up making sure there’s nothing there."

According to the Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association, it wasn't uncommon for stations to only check the pumps, while changing the receipt tape.

"Now, many stations are looking at it on a daily basis, they’re taking a photograph of the inside so they have a record of the inside so they can compare it in case one of these devices has been installed without their knowledge," Griffin said.

Owners are now doing everything they can to make sure pumps are filling up the tanks, not a tiny device that could be stealing your money.

"We are the victims. We can’t control if someone tampers with our pumps," said Singh.

In fact, many places are now spending tens of thousands  of dollars, putting in pumps with credit card chip readers. This will make stations more secure and credit card numbers harder to obtain.

"Customers are our bread and butter, so we have to keep them happy so they continue to come back, give them good service and make them feel safe, Singh said.

Gas station owners say if you see something out of the ordinary, go inside and tell the clerk. Consumers Report also recommends selecting  credit, instead of debit, to avoid the use of your PIN.