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5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Skimming at Gas Stations

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Skimming at Gas Stations - The Beacon


By: Michael

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Skimming at Gas Stations

The Tri-State Better Business Bureau reminds you that credit, debit and identity theft is something about which everyone needs to be concerned. While ATM s, restaurants, bars, department stores and online come with their own set of risks, gas stations are an easy target because they have numerous credit card slots without a clerk watching each one. Gas stations are at most exits and easy prey for tourists passing through. How does this happen to us when we know better? We get tired, distracted by family and pets, respond to cell phone calls and messages, choose a gas station in a bad neighborhood, or fail to check the pump for skimming devices or a security label. So what can we do? Here are five things to keep in mind to greatly reduce the chance of becoming a victim.

1: Use your credit card over a debit card. When they guess incorrectly, not knowing the expiration date, the card is declined. With a debit card, they have your pin number and can go on a shopping spree until they are caught. Many banks also offer less liability protection on debit cards than credit cards. You may, or may not get your money back on your debit card. If they empty your bank account, you won’t be able to pay bills while the bank works it out.

2: Use your card inside the gas station. While paying at the pump gets you in and out quickly, using the card inside helps you avoid skimmers. Also consider that most employees are on camera, and the employer knows who they are.

3: If you must use your card outside, try to get gas as close to the cashier as possible. Skimmers usually go for the farthest point from the cashier to stay out of sight of people and cameras.

4: Take a good look at the pump and your surroundings. Credit card skimmers used to be placed inside of a machine but now most gas stations use a seal so you can see if it was tampered with. Look for the seal. If it is torn, damaged or says void then don’t use it. Thieves use external keypads, known as overlays and usually target one pump. Look at a credit card area on one pump, and compare it to yours. Look for Different styles or colors of keypads. Jiggle the keypad or credit card insert to see if it moves. You might also look for someone just hanging around, especially in a car. Bluetooth technology allows criminals to stay farther away. If in doubt, go somewhere else.

5: Monitor your bank account online or via the phone. Check your accounts for unusual activity, preferably every two days, or three times a week. If the bank doesn’t spot it, it could go on for months; good security for everyone.

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Michael is our Business Information Specialist and will be writing at least one article per week for the consumer education blog. He works with accredited businesses to ensure we maintain current contact information and licensing. He is usually first to answer the phone; so odds are good you will be speaking with him when calling our office.