Watch Out For Card Skimming At The Gas Pump

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Who Should Be Aware Of Fraud At The Gas Pump?

Americans love to travel during the Summer and around the holidays. These times are filled with cheer and excitement as families take road trips around the U.S. to visit State Parks, visit family in other states, or just get away for family vacations.

According to AAA, more than 45 million Americans will take a road trip during the Summer of this year, and the busiest days of travel start on May 24-25. In addition, about 100 million Americans will take to the roads during the holidays this year, so there will be many drivers refueling throughout the year. 

From those dates forward, American roads will become more congested and more travelers will hit the roads to enjoy the warm Summer weather across the country.

Unfortunately, crooks see the opportunity to steal millions of dollars from unsuspecting drivers by installing skimmers at the pump to retrieve personal information that they can use to steal large amounts of cash or make fraudulent charges to the owner’s card.

How does this happen? Well, we will need to look at how thieves could steal money from your bank account when you are at the gas pump with skimmers. 

What Are Skimmers?

Skimmers are card readers that are attached to payment terminals like ATMs and even gas pumps. These devices are difficult to identify, and they can read your card information (card number, PIN, etc.) and transmit your personal information to an unauthorized person remotely.

Once received, criminals will sell or use your data to buy items or sell your information online. In either case, it can cause a lot of headaches if your information is stolen and it can take a lot of time and energy to retrieve your money from the bank once your card is skimmed and money stolen from you.

There are many ways that crooks can attach a skimmer to a gas pump, and the threats are increasing as new technology is released. In the past, skimmers were clunky, analog devices there were difficult to install and could be identified quickly by a careful driver.

However, modern day crooks are using state of the art technology to make skimmers harder to detect and install them easier at gas pumps.

Many pump skimmers are using Bluetooth technology to instantly retrieve your personal information and have that data downloaded to a third-party device without any detection.

These devices are often connected directly to the gas pump so the skimmers can run indefinitely, and data will be transferred remotely and it is difficult to track the data transfer to the thief so the tactics are difficult to prosecute.

The threat of gas pump fraud is not only present during the Summer season or holidays, because of the National Association for Convenience Stores estimates that 37 million Americans refuel each day and over 29 million of those drivers use a credit or debit card at the pump.

This means that on average, a single compromised pump can capture data from 30-100 credit and debit cards each day! 

How To Protect Yourself At The Pump

Gas stations and gas pumps are the easiest targets for crooks looking to steal your information. As more Americans drive across the country for holidays and Summer Vacation, more people need to refuel on their adventure.

A recent study showed that nearly 15% of Americans who bought gas during the one-month test felt they were victim of skimming at their local pump. This is a staggering amount of Americans who feel their information was stolen while refueling at their local gas station.

Not only do gas pumps offer ample opportunity for thieves to steal your personal information, but gas stations are also not required to update their card readers on a regular basis. In fact, gas stations are not required to update their pump readers to EMV chip cards until October 2020.

While gas stations wait to update their card readers, there are some easy ways that you can protect your personal information while refueling this Summer and holiday seasons.

  • Don’t pay at the pump. Instead, pay inside with an attendant. This is one of the easiest ways to prevent your information from being stolen at the pump since you will be conducting the transaction inside where card readers are under closer watch.
  • Check for the security tape at the pump before inserting your credit or debit card. If the tape is broken or reads “Void” then you should report your findings to the attendant at the location.
  • Make sure that the gas pump cabinet is closed and secured. Some criminals will open the gas pump cabinet to insert a skimmer behind the pump display.
  • Use a credit card at the pump. Debit card transactions are often more difficult to dispute, and paying with a credit card will not withdraw money directly from your account.
  • Monitor your bank accounts regularly and keep an eye out for unauthorized charges. Some crooks will not purchase anything with your information for several months, so you will need to keep an eye on your records and notify your bank if you see any abnormal transactions.

Protect Yourself At The Pump

Be sure to take proper precaution when you are at the pump this Summer. Crooks are finding opportunity to steal from American drivers by capturing Debit and Credit Card information. 

Check the pump for broken safety tape and other signifies that show the pump has been tampered with. The safest way to pay for gas is by going into the store to pay, so be sure to pay inside if you have any doubts!

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Author: Chris Giarratana

Chris is a Digital Media Strategy and AdWords management consultant in Orlando, FL. He develops marketing strategies for small businesses, researches emerging technologies, and enjoys studying transportation issues.

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