AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A card skimmer used at a gas station along Route 9 obtained credit/debit card information that withdrew money from a victim’s account illegally.

According to the UMass Amherst Police Department, on Monday a student that stopped for gas along Route 9 was approached by a woman who said she had no cash or card to buy gas and the station would not accept a check. The woman told the student she would write a check if she swiped her card so she could get gas, and the student agreed.

Later that night money was taken out of the student’s account. Police say a card skimmer was used to obtain the student’s credit/debit card information to steal money from the account.

How to protect yourself from ATM skimming

ATMs and gas stations are common spots for schemers to place these skimmers. Card skimmers can be hard to see because they’re made to blend with the machine they’ve been attached to.

One sign of a skimmer is if the card reader is sticking far out. The skimmers are designed to be placed over the real card slot.

For this reason, a loose credit card reader can also be a sign. Because skimmers can be so hard to spot, your best bet may be to monitor your accounts to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.

Using credit cards or cash is one way to protect yourself. Federal law limits your liability for fraudulent charges to $50, but wait more than two business days to report charges to a debit card, and you could be liable for as much as $500.

Photos: ATM Skimmers

Here are some tips from the Department of Consumer Affairs for how to protect your banking information when you are at the pump oATM:

  • Use pumps closest to the attendant and is aware of lighting conditions. The darkest-lit and furthest pump from the attendant is a thief’s ideal target.
  • Pay inside and use cash when possible. Credit and debit cards account for more than half of all U.S. gasoline purchases, making it all too easy for thieves to acquire your information.
  • Check the condition of the pumps and pay attention to details. Sometimes there are slight abnormalities that you may detect. If it looks suspicious or if you spot any sign of tampering, immediately notify an attendant and make sure the police are called.
  • Look around. Some thieves use Blue Tooth technology which requires them to be within a certain distance of the pump. If a person or car seems to be lingering for too long, notify an attendant.
  • Monitor your bank account daily and check your credit card statements. Notify your bank or card issuer if anything looks unusual or if you spot fraudulent charges.