AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new crackdown on credit card skimming prevented nearly $48.5 million in fraud losses in Texas and recovered nearly 400 credit card skimmers in the state, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation announced Tuesday.

The department lauded the work of the Financial Crimes Intelligence Center. The FCIC has operated out of Tyler in Smith County since January 2022.

According to TDLR, the FCIC is the first of its kind in the US. It is a partnership between the TDLR and the District Attorney in Smith County.

The TDLR says the FCIC targets credit card skimming from gas pumps, ATMs and state benefit cards.

Total loss prevented or recovered$48,493,324
Skimmers recovered by TDLR396
Suspects identified217
Credit cards recovered1,629
2022 Operational Results from Financial Crimes Intelligence Center (FCIC)
Information courtesy: Texas Department of Licensing Regulation (TDLR)

The FCIC got 262 reports of skimmers across the state in 2022. Of those, 8 reports came from Travis County, and 12 came from San Marcos.

According to TDLR, FCIC investigators last year saw Texas-based criminal groups change their approach to card skimming at gas pumps.

  • Several groups moved their skimming activities out of state. TDLR says that was to avoid state laws and the crackdown on the skimmer devices.
  •  TDLR says some groups began moving operations to less-populated parts of Texas to find pumps that might be less protected.
  •  TDLR says many criminal groups now target high-flow diesel pumps to obtain fleet card numbers. According to TDLR, criminals like fleet cards because they don’t have a chip. They have significantly higher credit limits, and they don’t attract early attention when large amounts of fuel are purchased.

TDLR told KXAN in October 2021, the number of skimmers reported across Texas from September 2019 to August 2020 was less than the agency had expected. TDLR said it was due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition of the card skimmer watch program to TDLR from the Texas Department of Agriculture.