Scammers are everywhere, not just online and at the ATM. Fraudulent credit card activity in recent years has taken the form of gas station scams that use technology to target customers. The following tips will help protect you from identity theft and credit card fraud at the gas pump.
Watch out for gas station credit card skimmers
Gas station credit card skimmers are external devices that thieves attach over a real credit card slot at a gas station pump. When a customer swipes their card into the skimmer, the device saves and stores the card information. If the credit card slot looks different from the other card readers at the station, you may have happened upon a card skimmer. To be sure, tug on the reader. Skimming devices are temporary and will pop off with little effort.
Look for signs of tampering
Scammers will access credit card mechanisms through the front panel of the gas pump. They implant devices and gain credit card information from within when the customer swipes their card. Look for damage to the front of the gas pump; does it look like someone has tried to pry it open? Or is the lock broken? Some gas stations apply a tamper-proof sticker across the opening of the credit card door so keep an eye out for these too.
Beware of pinhole cameras
Scammers place cameras so small that you can hardly notice them. Cameras are used alongside credit card skimmers to gain footage of the customer entering their PIN on their debit card. With this information, the thief can commit debit card fraud and withdraw funds and make fraudulent credit card purchases. Look for anything out of the ordinary. Pinhole cameras are in the keypad area.
Do you have a radio frequency ID (RFID) chip on your credit card? If so, you are susceptible to electronic pick-pocketing devices. First, find out if your credit card has a RFID chip. No contact is needed for the device to scan the credit card, and the thief only needs to be a few inches away. Be aware of your proximity to others at the pump and inside the gas station.
Pay the gas station attendant
Cardholders can pay the gas station attendant. This way, you can avoid the risks of pinhole cameras and gas-pump credit card readers that have been tampered.
It’s good practice to check your bank and credit card statements to ensure charges are accurate. If you find your card was skimmed, call your bank or credit card company immediately and notify them about the fraudulent charges. Take advantage of any security measures offered by your bank including setting up fraud alerts on your accounts.
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