San Diego

RB Gas Station Customers Report Being Victimized by Card Skimmers

Community members in the Rancho Bernardo area are annoyed and frustrated over suspected data thieves at gas stations.

Over the past few months, dozens have shared their stories and suspicions on social media of credit card skimmers at their neighborhood pumps.

Some even numbered themselves as victims on a Facebook thread.

“My wife had said to be careful,” Rancho Bernardo resident Peter Califano told NBC 7. “I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t get hit by it.”

Califano said not long after filling up at a 76 gas station last week on Rancho Bernardo Road, he noticed additional charges to his account: $99 in Ontario, California and $100 in Anaheim.

“I’ve never been to Ontario in my entire life and I haven’t been to Anaheim in a while,” said Califano.

The manager of that 76 declined to comment to NBC 7 and referred us to its parent company, United Pacific, who did not return our calls.

Law enforcement could not confirm if any skimming devices discovered in the area.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said their Poway station and 4S Ranch substation hadn’t reported any skimming incidents, before saying the specific area is under San Diego Police jurisdiction.

The San Diego Police Department also couldn’t confirm any card skimming incidents in the area, but said the San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force -- of which the U.S. Secret Service is a part -- usually handles these types of crimes.

Jim Anderson, Special Agent in Charge with the San Diego Secret Service Field Office, said his agents could not confirm reports of skimming devices found at that 76 or others in the area.

But experts say make no mistake, skimming is happening.

“All the time, it happens everywhere,” explained Todd Lane, President of California Coast Credit Union.

Lane says he hears it from his customers constantly and he points out skimmers are getting more and more sophisticated.

“They’re putting devices that go inside where you slide your card, and they’re very small, they’re home made,” he said.

Lane added the skimmers usually collect data from a card’s magnetic strip rather than a harder-to-crack chip, and most gas pumps only read the strips.

“When I got to a gas station, I always go inside and pay. I never pay at the pump. I know it’s inconvenient, but if you want to protect your data and your money, that’s the place to go,” he said.

Lane also advises consumers to be aware of their surroundings, hide their pins from potential hidden cameras, and if necessary, pay with cash.

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