This is not news anyone wants to hear, but it's a reality we now have to deal with. There are reports that credit card skimmers have turned up at several locations around our area at banks and at some area gas pumps as well. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office is warning people to be vigilant to prevent being the next victim.

In case you're not familiar with skimmers, Skimmers are the devices criminals use to steal information at gas pumps, ATM's and on credit card machines.  Crooks can get all sorts of information from these skimmers and they are frequently used for identity theft as well as just running up your credit card bill. So, what do you do to prevent these things from happening to you?

Well, in that regard, experts suggest a couple of tips. One is to pay inside the gas station rather than at the pump. You can also cut down on theft by using "credit" when you have the option. The good thing about using your card in the credit mode is that there is no PIN number to steal If you do use your card as a debit card, shield the keypad so that it's harder to see what numbers you are typing in for your PIN.

Experts also say to try and use a gas pump as close to the attendant as possible. Crooks don't like prying eyes and they are more apt to try and install a skimmer on gas pumps as far from those prying eyes as possible.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso also offers a handy bit of advice to the mix with:

"The main thing is look at your bank accounts daily. Look at your bank statements and monitor the spending. You know what you're spending. You know if maybe one of your children or your spouse has a one of your credit cards and/or debit cards so you need to stay on top of that and know where money is going and if you had made these purchases or not,"

If anything looks out of order with a gas pump or ATM, move on to another location.