Rampant card skimmer theft in Hays County

By Sahar Chmais
Tens of Hays County residents have reported credit card information theft in gas stations across the county to the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch.
Some residents even reported having their information stolen on multiple occasions. As it has become a common issue for residents, what can be done to fix it?
Many of the incidents were recent, according to the reports, with thefts at Poco Loco, Shell, Q-Way, Stripes, 7-11, Texaco and more. But much of the action falls into the hands of the consumer to fix or avoid the issue.
The Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch reached out to several gas stations across the county for input about the situation.
Q-Way said they have a new pump, which was installed about one year ago after hearing complaints from customers during that time frame. They have not heard new complaints since, said Mike Momin, manager.
Customers may not be complaining to the gas station, but there was one resident who said her information was recently stolen after going to Q-Way.
Another resident said the only place she used her credit card a few weeks ago was at Texaco on Windy Hill in Kyle, and she also fell victim to skimmer theft. At that same gas station, one customer said the owner is well aware of the issue, but “if you bring it up to him, he gets mad and argues with you.”
The Texaco gas station owner has not responded to calls. A cashier at the Texaco gas station said after updating their machines approximately five months ago, she has not received any complaints from customers.
Some of the other gas stations that were contacted did not comment and have not responded.
Residents who think their card number has been stolen should notify their credit card company, local law enforcement and report the incident to the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration (TDLR) as soon as possible, according to TDLR.
Consumers should also be wary of other ways card information gets stolen. ATMs, card readers inside stores and on the internet are some other ways card number theft occurs.
To help avoid these incidents at a gas station, TDLR has provided some tips. Customers should check to see if there was tampering with the gas pump. Some signs of tampering to look for include:
  • If there is security tape on the cabinet and it appears to have been cut.
  • If the cabinet door is loose or damaged.
  • If the card slot feels loose.
Additionally, TDLR suggests that customers use credit cards instead of debit cards, if possible, because crooks can drain accounts. Customers should also frequently check transaction history to see if there is an out-of-the-ordinary transaction.

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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