Police warn local drivers about gas station credit card "skimmer - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Police warn local drivers about gas station credit card "skimmers"

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RICHLAND, WA. -- If you drive at all, you have to gas up. But just how safe is it to use your credit card at the pump? 

Dozens of people in our area have fallen victim to credit card theft, after filling up the fuel tank thanks to 'credit card skimmers.'

The last thing you're thinking about when you get out of your car at the gas station and you head to the pump to put your credit card in is your information being stolen. But if you're not careful, your credit card information could be taken before you finish filling up. 

They're happening more often and they're happening here. Thieves are using credit card skimmers to steal your credit card and your money. Terrance Sidney says it's not something he keeps in mind when he fills up. 

"No, you're trying to get your gas and go about your day," Terrance said. "You got things to do, you're not really thinking twice about somebody stealing from you."

But it's happening more and more often in our area. Just two weeks ago a different gas station in Richland was hit. Months ago, Kennewick Police busted a skimming ring going all the way to Spokane. Captain Mike Cobb tells us what to look out for. 

"Usually what you're looking for is any type of device that's going to be attached directly adjacent to the card reader slot," Capt. Cobb said. "It looks just like another piece of metal that's attached to the side."

Also keep an eye out for what appears to be loose credit card readers or tampering of any kind. These skimmers can sit undetected for months before the criminals come back and remove the information, gaining access to thousands of cards. 

"And so these people are very good at what they do," Capt. Cobb told us. "So it may sit there for days or even weeks because you might not even notice it because it looks like part of the machine."

These crimes are very difficult for police to prevent. They need everyone to help keep an eye out at every pump.

"As technologies develop, it continues to be an ongoing problem and one of the best ways we can combat it, is for consumer awareness," Capt. Cobb said. 

Terrance says he'll definitely keep an eye out for skimmers after Friday. 

"Sucks even more to have somebody steal from you and you can't even see them," Terrance said. 

Police say one of the most important things you can do besides being careful when you fill up, is to report when your credit card information has been stolen to your local police department. With that information, police can make more arrests.