Hundreds of people in the Grays Harbor area had their bank accounts compromised recently after a skimmer device on a local gas station pump took their payment card information.
On a Facebook group for Aberdeen citizens, commenters over the weekend said they had anywhere from $300 to $980 in fraudulent transactions that occurred elsewhere in the state, such as a withdrawal from a convenience store ATM in Seattle and from a bank’s ATM in Bellevue.
Typically, a skimmer works by attaching a card reader to payment terminals such as ATMs and gas pumps. Criminals can attach the skimmers, which can be designed to look like the actual reader on the machine, but when the customer inserts the debit or credit card, it is being read by the illegal device, and the card information can fall into the wrong hands. Criminals can then use the information to withdraw cash from the user’s account or charge purchases.
Customers from various financial institutions were hit.
TwinStar Credit Union’s Matt Devlin, vice president of marketing, confirmed there was a skimmer, which he said affected “hundreds” of TwinStar customers. He said it’s likely other banks’ customers were affected who used the tampered gas pump as well. Devlin declined to say which gas station had the skimmer, and would only say it was in the Grays Harbor area.
One gas station reportedly hit declined to say if they had the skimmer, and police had no reports when they were contacted.
For affected TwinStar customers, Devlin said what normally happens is they contact the cardholder, and shut down their card, before reissuing a new card and reimbursing for any fraud losses.
“They’ll have a fraud claim and make sure everyone’s taken care of,” Devlin said. “… There’s no sort of financial risk to people.”
Devlin added that issues with gas pump skimmers have been an increasingly prominent issue recently.
“There’s somewhat of an epidemic around gas station pumps lately. There are some credit unions down in the Longview area that have had a lot of issues with this,” he said, noting that remote gas stations are often the ones hit by skimmers.
Aberdeen Police Lieutenant C.J. Chastain said the department is aware of the skimming activity discussed on Facebook and suspected gas stations affected, but they have not been receiving criminal complaints from citizens. Chastain said people who report this activity to their bank or credit union should also report the information to the police department so they have direct information to act upon.
To reach Louis Krauss, reporter for Grays Harbor News Group, send an email to lkrauss@
soundpublishing.com or call 360-537-3926.