NC lawmakers propose bill to make owning a skimming device a felony


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– North Carolina lawmakers want to make it more difficult for thieves to steal your credit card information by remote control.  

Most of us have probably heard about skimmers in the gas pumps and maybe even experienced being victimized by them. If not at the pump, perhaps you’ve had an electronic pickpocket take your money after you used an ATM. 

The culprit, a device known as a skimmer that’s hidden in a card reader that steals your information and allows crooks access to your bank account. 

“One of the scariest things in life is to look at your bank account and know there is money missing you had no idea was missing,” said Representative (R) John Torbett Gaston. 

That’s why Torbett wants to make it a felony to own or possess a skimming device in North Carolina. 

Skimmers don’t have to be stationary. 

Eight years ago, Consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia did a series of stories with a security consultant to show how portable skimmers were being used by criminals who would walk by you and grab credit card numbers. 

Skimmers can also be used to steal make identical copies of the RFID access cards we all use to unlock doors in offices, schools and other secure areas 

CBS 17 wanted to know if the bill includes skimmers which are portable. 

“It’s pretty much across the board,” said Torbett. “If a device is a skimming device than it says you can’t have them anywhere.” 

Police have been fighting the battle for years against criminals who use skimmers. 

Even if they catch someone with one of those devices, police may not be able to use it as evidence as Representative Torbett found out from a police officer who complained to him. 

“He was having difficulty getting people jailed for doing that because  there wasn’t any proof,” he said.  Suspects erased the proof on the device leaving it empty. 

The bill says erased or not, if you have a skimmer, it’s jail time if you’re convicted. 

The skimmer bill passed the house this week with a unanimous vote. It’s now up to the senate. 

Torbett is hoping they’ll “do the right thing,” and approve it too.  

If the governor signs it,  he said “it would go into effect immediately.” 

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