Police say gas station credit card skimmers a big problem

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- Police say credit card skimmers inside gas pumps are stealing the identity and valuable credit card information from dozens of unsuspecting customers in Western Washington.

Pete Caldwell recently found out his gas station was used by thieves as a identity theft trap. A crook broke into the credit card readers at his gas pumps and installed skimmers that steal valuable information from card users. That information can then be remotely downloaded and used by the suspect.

One gas station customer who Q13 FOX News spoke to had never heard of the plot.

"It’s an ingenious kind of scam. It’s just unbelievable," Bob Olson said.

Police say locks at gas pumps can be easy to break into. Once crooks install their credit card skimmers, they wait for victims to drive to them.

Mercer Island Police say this problem goes far beyond the island.

"This is an everywhere problem," police Cmdr. Leslie Burns said.  "This is all up and down the I-5 corridor. All the way down to California. All the way up to Canada."

Police say the only way to avoid becoming a victim is to pay inside instead of using your card at the gas pump.