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Secret Service Hunting for Credit Card Skimmers as July Fourth Travelers Fuel Up

A variety of tools used to skim information from credit cards are displayed at the office of the New York Police Department's Financial Crimes Task Force on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

WASHINGTON — The Secret Service will be combing through gas stations nationwide this week in an effort to break up skimming operations looking to swipe motorists’ card numbers over the holiday travel week.

Agents from 36 Secret Service field offices will be spread across 21 states trying to locate skimming devices at the pump. AAA reported Monday that despite gas prices being the highest in four years, nearly 40 million motorists are expected to be on the road this week.

“Criminals surreptitiously install the small devices, known as skimmers, at gas pumps where they are able to capture the protected data of unsuspecting victims. Fueling stations are a prime target due the frequency of use and the criminal’s ability to install the devices and recover the stolen data undetected,” the Secret Service said in a statement today. “Because today’s gas pumps are typically unattended, developing suspects and making arrests in skimming cases is difficult – but not impossible. The Secret Service is leading the charge to protect the U.S. consumer against this growing cyber-enabled financial crime.”

During a similar campaign over Memorial Day weekend, agents seized more than 70 credit card skimmers from fuel pumps.

While gas prices are at a four-year Independence Day high, AAA said the average pump price is 11 cents cheaper per gallon than on Memorial Day weekend.

“The national gas price average has held fairly steady for the past 10 days, suggesting that U.S. demand is keeping pace with supply and stabilizing summer gas prices,” said Jeanette Casselano of AAA. “However, elevated crude oil prices and other geopolitical concerns could tilt gas prices more expensive in the early fall despite an expected increase in global crude production from OPEC and its partners.”

Casselano added that “if U.S. demand remains strong, domestic and global supply decline and crude inventories continues to sell over $70/bbl, motorists may see the national gas prices average to potentially jump back up to nearly $3/gallon in coming months.”