How to keep thieves from siphoning your credit card data at gas pumps

Texans: Watch out the next time you fill your car up with gas.

State officials say devices known as credit card skimmers have been found across the state in fuel pumps, helping thieves siphon information from Texans’ credit and debit cards.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is asking Texans to be on alert and report any problems they find at the state’s more than 400,000 fuel pumps.

“This is pretty much organized crime,” Miller said. “We got on to them in East Texas, then they moved to Katy, then San Antonio, then Austin. We’ve found them just about all over the state.”

Despite the growing problem, Miller said it’s going to be harder than ever to find and stop people from installing skimmers in pumps statewide after Sept. 1.

That’s when a new law, House Bill 2174, goes into effect preventing workers with the Texas Department of Agriculture from inspecting and testing gas pumps across the state — checking for everything from dirty fuel to proper octane ratings — on a regular basis.

Inspections will be done by companies licensed by the state, but not until there are at least three complaints in a year’s time or if the pumps haven’t been inspected in 1 1/2 years. At that point, the Agriculture Department will require owners to have their pumps inspected.

“Texans are going to get screwed,” said Miller, who unsuccessfully worked to stop the bill and to get Gov. Greg Abbott to veto it. “We will see how it plays out.”

For now, Miller encourages Texans to stay alert at the gas pumps and watch out for skimming problems.

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