Watch out for Bluetooth credit card skimmers this holiday season
(WZTV) -- If you aren't careful, a $40 tank of gas could end up costing you thousands. But your smartphone could play a critical role in protecting your money.
Police around the country are seeing more credit card skimmers using Bluetooth technology.
"[Information] can be transmitted wirelessly to the bad guy who is collecting all this data,” said David Harrell, detective with the Hendersonville Police Department.
The good news is, the same technology that makes it easier for criminals to steal your identity, also makes it easier to protect yourself.
"It's kind of been a cat and mouse game forever,” said Nick Poole, creative technologist at Sparkfun Eectronics.
The Colorado-based company that's developed an app called Skimmer Scanner. “The app just searches for the Bluetooth radio that we know is in that type of credit card skimmer and then tells the user if it finds that radio,” Poole said.
Just activate the app at the pump, and if it detects a skimmer, tell the cashier.
The app is available on the Google Play store, where a vast majority of users gave the app five stars. Skimmer Scanner is free but right now, is only available for Android devices.
If you don't have one, Jason Kee, tech security expert, says there are also some low-tech things you can do to protect yourself at the pump.
“Always use a credit transaction instead of a debit transaction,” Kee said.
The Federal Trade Commission says that keeps your personal identification number safe and the money isn't immediately taken out of your account
Second, because every day skimmers become harder to trace, keep track of your accounts.
“Just watch your credit transactions over time,” Kee said. “Set up alerts on your bank accounts, your credit cards, just to occasionally remind yourself to look at what's on your credit card, what's been charged.”
Click here to learn more about the Skimmer Scanner app.
Click here to see more safety tips from the FBI.