Credit card victim highlights problem with skimming investigations

A pair of credit card skimmers were found at a north Austin 7-Eleven on Tuesday. (Photos: Texas Department of Agriculture)

On Tuesday, Austin police removed two credit card skimmers at a north Austin gas station.

Merricka Seabrooks contacted CBS Austin and said her credit card information was stolen at the same gas station at I-35 and Wells Branch Parkway in October.

Seabrooks says this was one of three times thieves stole her info after visiting a gas station.

She reported the problem, but the Texas Department of Agriculture, who is charged with inspecting the pumps, didn't find the skimmer. But now they know that Austin police had already removed the illegal device in October when they arrived to inspect.

TDA spokesperson Mark Loeffler says the gas pump skimming problem is widespread and thieves act quickly to remove and add skimmer devices, sometimes at the same gas stations.

Still, he said, "we're not really fighting together," and hopes that new legislation this year will require local law enforcement agencies and gas stations to report skimmers to TDA so they can better track the problem.

Loeffler also said that there are new pumps with security available for gas stations, but they are expensive so gas stations are not investing in the solution.

"It’s the responsibility of the private owner of that station to try to do more," Loeffler said.

Still, Seabrooks thinks the department can still do more.

"I just think there's something more that they could do like you guys have the seals on the pumps but I see so many pumps that don’t have seals. There should be more safe guards like alarms that go off if they try to open up the machine or cameras that are directly over the pump," Seabrooks said.

Seabrooks says she will go inside the station to pay to avoid becoming a victim again.

“It’s become way too much of a hassle for people to do everyday functions without people feeling like they’re taken advantage of, I don’t think that’s fair," Seabrooks said.

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