AUSTIN, Texas - Watch where you swipe. Law enforcement agencies across Central Texas are finding credit card skimmers on gas pumps.
Austin police said they've been finding skimmers on gas pumps for a year and half. Now Round Rock and Elgin are sounding the alarm.
"You'll never see a thing,” said Chief Chief Bratton.
Elgin Police Chief Chris Bratton said thieves are hiding credit card skimmers inside gas pumps at stations along U.S. 290.
"It's a simple plug-and-play. They plug it in so when your card goes in and the information is legitimately pulled off your card it goes through this which can then be sent to the skimmer or they'll come back later and pull it and have all the information that they need,” he said.
Bratton said two skimmers were found inside pumps at a 7-11 this month. Last week station employees found one inside a pump at the Sunoco station across the highway.
The crime is so easy to carry out it would make a law-abiding credit card owner shudder.
"Get on the internet, search for one of these, buy it for $50, buy the keys to the pumps then you just go to whatever station has the pumps that are older and plug them in” said Bratton.
To make matters worse, you may never know the device was there until a fraudulent charge appeared on your account. Everything is internal. Crooks do not alter any part of the card reader.
Matt Schulz of creditcards.com says criminals view gas stations as "low-hanging fruit." he shared his reasoning with fox 7 by phone Monday.
"The reason why it's become such a target for bad guys is gas stations don't have to have their pumps ready to accept smart chip cards until 2020. So that means while all the retailers out there have improved their terminals, all their checkout counters and made things a lot safer, gas stations have not quite done that yet,” said Schulz. "It costs so much money to either retrofit a current pump or to completely replace a pump. Talking more than $10,000 potentially to replace a particular pump. That's a lot of money and a lot of time that gas stations didn't want to put in until they absolutely had to."
In the meantime, Bratton said watch out for any broken seals. If they're broken or look fake-- don't swipe.
He said stay away from the pumps on the far ends, seek out gas stations with new pumps, use a credit card instead of debit and if you want to be really cautious go inside to pay.
Bratton said he is working with DPS to see if any information can be pulled off the confiscated skimmers. If they are able to pull information, they will contact the banks involved so that they may alert their customers.
As for finding the crooks involved, he said it's almost impossible unless the person is caught red-handed.