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Tennessee officials warn of increased ‘skimmers’ at gas pumps

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is alerting consumers to an increase in fraudulent credit card devices found at gas pumps across the state.

“Inspectors with our Weights and Measures Section are discovering credit card skimmers during routine gas pump inspections,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Thanks to the watchful eyes and thoroughness of our inspectors, consumers are protected at the pump.”

Five fraudulent devices have been detected in user interface compartments on fuel pumps in the past six weeks in various locations statewide.

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Consumers are urged to take note of the credit card reader they are using. If it appears to be different from other readers at the gas pumps or if it is not securely affixed to the display panel, report it to the gas station manager or TDA and move to another pump. If a card skimming device is detected at the pump, TDA inspectors immediately remove the pump from service and contact local law enforcement.

“Routine inspections are one way that we safeguard both the consumer and the business,” Weights and Measures Administrator Ed Coleman said. “Most of the time, it’s impossible for either to know a credit card skimmer has been placed inside the compartment. One way for consumers to avoid contact with a skimming device is to pay for their gasoline purchase inside.”

A skimming device reads and stores data from the magnetic stripe on a credit or debit card when the card is used at a point of sale. Even at locations where chip readers are in use, stolen data from the strip can be used for fraudulent transactions. Consumers should always track purchases and be aware of balances on their bank accounts.

To report a suspected issue at a gas pump, call TDA at 1-800-OCTANE1 (1-800-628-2631) or 615-837-5109. The business name and full address with a description of the issue should be reported along with the pump number.

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One of the main functions of the Weights and Measures Section is to ensure consumer confidence in the marketplace by testing devices such as fuel pumps. Their work promotes uniformity in federal regulations and standards to achieve equity between buyers and sellers for items sold by weight, volume, or quantity.

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