By Jennifer McGraw

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Millions of dollars are being scammed by card skimmers, and police say thieves are getting away with it because the crimes are often unreported.

“I’m very careful with how I use my card, and I don’t do online transactions just because I don’t know how to protect myself that way,” said Bill Miller of Sacramento.

But a simple fill up nearly cost Miller $900 over the weekend.

“Three transactions for $300 and some change on each one at Safeway in San Leandro,” he said.

Miller, who is a creature of habit, said the only place that makes sense for the fraud happened at a Sacramento gas station.

“They used my debit card,” Miller added.

A fraud alert from his bank stopped the third transaction, but because he used his debit card. Now he’s out $600 until the paperwork is processed.

“I live paycheck to paycheck like a lot of people. I can’t afford to have $600 being held up like that,” he said.

Investigators say it’s a lucrative business and the thieves are hard to catch.

“It will get the card number along with your pin information, so they’ll have everything they need to re-create your ATM card,” said Detective Matt Deaux with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

More than $1 million has been stolen from local residents in just the past year at the gas pump and at ATMs, according to the sheriff’s department.

“It’s not a question of if, it’s when it’s going to happen to you because it’s just so prevalent,” he said.

Detectives say never use a debit card and always protect your pin.

“If you can use a pump near the cashier that would be ideal. If you can go and pay cash,” said Sgt. Vance Chandler with Sac PD.

Sacramento Police say it’s hard to stop the crime if it’s never reported.

“It does create challenges for us, and that’s why we rely on the community to report crimes so that we are aware of them and we can do all we can for the community,” he said.

Miller hopes this is a warning to others to help police and stop the scammers.

Just because your credit card or bank company has corrected an issue, you still need to report the crime to police.

If not, the credit card skimmer could be sitting in a pump just waiting to get you.

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