Wisconsin lawmaker looks to crack down on credit card skimming devices

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- Filling up your gas tank takes minutes, but police say that is enough time for thieves who use card skimmers to steal your information.

"It's a problem that is happening throughout Wisconsin," said Capt. Larry Zimney with the Manitowoc Police Department.

Earlier this month, a gas station in Manitowoc uncovered a skimming device.

"These skimmers are apparently pretty easy for these thieves to install, they're pretty sophisticated that when a credit card is slid in they can recover the information off that card," said Zimney.

In Green Bay, since last November, at least three gas stations have fallen victim to credit card skimmers.

"I think in a way, yeah we're seeing a raise, but I think we're kind of lucky that we're catching up to these folks," said Lt. Rick Belanger.

Belanger explained even when a suspect is caught, prosecuting them can be tricky.

"The laws that we have here in Wisconsin currently don't really hold a ton of water on installing devices on that equipment, it's kind of a trespassing thing," said Belanger.

Republican State Senator Rob Cowles is circulating a bill that would toughen the penalties for people caught possessing credit card skimming devices.

"Law enforcement has told us that they just need more clout , they need more laws in order to get these people," said Cowles.

Under the proposal, possessing a skimmer with intent to commit identity theft punishable by up to 3.5 months years in prison. Possessing a skimmer with intent to give it to someone for identity theft and attempting to use a skimmer for identity theft would both be punishable by up to six years in prison. Gaining something of value through a skimmer would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"What I'm trying to do is just protect citizens from the unlawful taking of their credit card numbers," said Cowles.

Police say before you pay at the pump, take a look around and if anything looks suspicious pay inside.

"If you can pay inside you're not going to have these issues because you're not putting your card into the pump," said Zimney.