HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- Every time you run your card strip, data privacy experts said your money and bank accounts can be put at risk.
Experts say thieves can steal your money from just a few feet away without you even knowing about it.
“It’s almost impossible, unless a station is taking some greater measures, to know if there is a skimmer in that pump,” said Matt Essig, who was scammed by a gas pump skimmer.
Essig, who also owns a company aimed at keeping gas pumps safe from skimming, said it’s easy for a thief to install a skimmer into a pump without you even knowing it’s there in the first place.
“You can come up, you can slide your card in, you can still get an authorization to use your card, the pump will still work and the thieves will get all of your information,” said Essig.
Essig said he was only hit for $20 bucks after filling up at the Shell gas station at Broadway and Highlands Ranch Parkway in Highlands Ranch a couple of months ago, but others since have not been so lucky.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said they pulled a card skimmer out of a pump at that gas station and have five active cases related to that station as a result.
Deputies with the Sheriff’s Office said more cases could be out there from people who haven’t reported the theft yet.
Marla Cook’s husband filled up at that gas station last weekend and soon thereafter noticed they were robbed of hundreds of dollars.
“It’s $600 you know, out of our account, but fortunately the bank is working with us,” said Cook.
A community Facebook page is flooded with comments from people claiming to also have been scammed out of hundreds of dollars from the same spot.
That page is what alerted Cook to check her account activity.
“If it hadn’t been for the community page, I wouldn’t even know to be on the lookout for it, but obviously it’s a rampant problem,” said Cook.
Essig said because the mandate requiring chip readers at gas pumps across the country was kicked down the road by legislators from 2017 to 2020, these types of scams may ramp up.
“You’re going to see more and more and more skimmers,” Essig said.
Essig added the keys to access the inside of the pumps and the security tape for the door can easily be purchased online by anyone.
Denver7 reached out to the Shell gas station, but a manager declined to comment.