TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Thieves find paying with plastic even more convenient than you do. Especially when they have new ways to steal your info and clone your card with methods that are very hard to catch.
It's called skimming.
Thieves used to stick a crude card reader on top of the slot. It records your information and they have to come back to retrieve it.
You at least have a chance to notice that method.
A sticker may look out of place and pulling the slot could tell you it's there.
The new generation of skimmers is out of sight inside the machine.
For a gas station, the thieves can get the standard key that opens most pumps, and attach a device inside the pump.
That sort of skimmer turned up in Marana.
Investigators cannot say how long it was there.
Sgt. Chris Warren, spokesperson with Marana Police says, "the reason they found this particular one was just a routine inspection. The pump wasn't working right. They did an inspection on the pump and while the techs were there they happened to come across the device."
Police say devices like this can transmit to a phone or computer so thieves don't have to risk going back for it.
One defense is to give up on pay at the pump.
"I always go inside and I pay at the cash register and just give a pump number," said Leo Mackrow.
But thieves can skim from the card reader at check-out too.
Thieves plant hard to spot skimmers in ATM's and place cameras to watch you enter your pin.
The credit score firm FICO says last year just from January to April, debit card compromises jumped 174% from ATM's on bank property and 317% at ATMs at other locations.
So how can you defend yourself?
Avoid pumps and ATM's in out of the way locations where thieves can install skimmers while no one is watching.
At a gas station, for instance, choose pumps a clerk can see out the window.
Most newer ATMs have a light on the slot.
If you don't see a light, a stick-on skimmer may have covered it.
It pays to check accounts as often as every day to watch for transactions you did not make and tell your bank to restrict the amount, and number of transactions it will allow on your debit card each day.
And you could give up paying with plastic entirely.
Georgia Perine only uses cash and says, "I don't use an ATM. I go inside the bank, get my money and pay cash for everything."