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Card information stealing devices found at 3 San Luis Obispo County gas stations
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Card information stealing devices found at 3 San Luis Obispo County gas stations

Devices used to steal credit card information were found recently at three gasoline stations in San Luis Obispo County, and officials are warning motorists to take precautions with gas purchases and beware of pumps that appear to be tampered with.

Sixteen of the devices, called “skimmers,” were found at the three gas stations, which were not identified by the San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures.

David Aguayo, deputy agricultural commissioner and sealer, said officials don’t know how widespread the problem is, but weights and measures inspectors are stepping up routine surveillance of gas pump card readers countywide.

Card skimmers are devices spliced onto the credit card reader inside gas pumps, allowing credit and debit card and PIN numbers to be recorded during refueling and retrieved later or sent to an offsite receiver.

The 16 devices recently found could use Bluetooth technology to transfer card information without opening the gas pump to retrieve the device.

Law enforcement officers removed the devices as evidence in an investigation.

The Agriculture, Weights and Measures Department advises consumers to pay cash for fuel purchases or consider running debit cards as credit cards, which may offer greater protection if fraud occurs.

Consumers also should use gas pumps closest to or facing service station buildings where attendants are visible; watch for pump security stickers that appear broken or tampered with; and report suspicious behavior by anyone not affiliated with the station to the attendant, manager or owner.

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The following is taken from the Santa Maria Police Department's calls-for-service log and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office daily arrest log. Those appearing as "arrested" are only suspected of the crime indicated but are presumed innocent.

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