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Criminals running skimming operations have been improving the technology they use to make stealing card data even easier, so card issuers and gas station owners need to step up their game to fight back, security experts say. Many different gas pumps can be opened with the same master keys, so crooks need only get copies of a limited set of master keys to get into pumps to install skimmers. Increasingly, they are using wireless internal skimmers that transmit the card data to them via Bluetooth devices, so they don’t even have to take the risk of retrieving the skimmer from the pump to download stolen card data.

“They just need to be within 30 feet of the skimmer, so one guy can go in to buy a Slurpee and distract the clerk while his partner sits in their car near the pumps downloading all of the stolen card data,” said Al Pascual, senior analyst of security risk and fraud at Javelin Strategy & Research.

Some gas stations are beginning to upgrade to pumps that have payment terminals equipped with antitampering devices, but that change is only occurring gradually because upgrades can cost $4,000 to $12,000 per pump, according to Litan.

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