Devices, security that is greater elsewhere make Gas pumps a target
By Lisa Bertagnoli | Updated: September 3, 2017
Driving? Watch out for gasoline pump “skimmers.”
There is no way to protect yourself from these card-data-stealing apparatus, if you’re filling up but some basic checks can reduce the risk of fraud.
Before you put your card check your phone’s Bluetooth to see if there is an suspicious sign, jiggle the card reader, and Search for a seal that is broken, experts say. The numbers are frightening. Since the 2017 Labor Day weekend approached, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned that it had already found skimmers installed on Florida gas pumps this year.
It’s not just Florida. Skimmers are currently popping up across the Nation, and here’s why:
Technology is getting more sophisticated. Skimmers once were large-ish
Devices installed over the card reader and identifiable out of place by discerning gas station patrons. Now, they’re as small as a thumb drive and impossible to detect.
Stations remain vulnerable targets. Gas stations received a three-year expansion to upgrade pumps with readers, which accommodates credit cards with fraud-resistant electronic chips. That means card skimmers will be a threat at the pumps until at least October 2020.
‘Last bastion’ for thieves
Pumps will read credit until fueling pumps are outfitted with EMV technology
Card magnetic stripes, “one of the last bastions” for thieves, says
Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego-based
Nonprofit that assists victims of identity theft. Magnetic-stripe technology,
She states, lacks layers of protection. “If thieves know how to undermine
That, that’s where they will go,” she says. “It’s lucrative — people
Would not do it if it was not.”
“The devices are being found at small retailers, large retailers, urban, rural, old and new convenience stores, so nobody is exempt,” says Kara Gunderson, point-of-sale manager for Citgo Petrolum Corp.. On skimming in December 2015, she moderated a Conexxus webinar. Its title: “Defending the Island.”
Especially those in remote locations, are targets, as their
Remoteness gives thieves time and solitude to put in devices that are skimming. The
Pumps most likely to get a skimmer: those off interstate highways, farthest
From the cash register, says Taylor of Conexxus.
Officials agree that skimming is a problem at fuel pumps. “Criminals stay up
On things just like the rest of us,” says Lt. John Faine, offender
Investigations section commander Lebanon, in Warren County Sheriff’s Office,
Ohio; one of many Ohio municipalities. “They
See this as an opportunity.”
Because fueling up has become a Faine, customers are vulnerable at gas stations
Habit that doesn’t demand much attention. “It’s such a matter-of-fact
thing,” he says. “People have so many things in their mind — they
Do not notice” if the charge card reader seems weird.
Some skimming victims
Have, in hindsight, remembered that the card reader had “a weird feeling,
Like the slot had been tampered with,” Faine says. “It wasn’t
Evident as it happened, but they said, ‘You know what, it
Did feel like something was off when I put my card in. ”’
Tips for consumers
Given the near-invisibility of the apparatus, it might not be possible to totally
Avoid a scam that is skimming. However, consumers can take steps to protect their
At fueling stations cards. Among the options:
Pay inside, with cash or a credit card,
Rather than in the pump. Odds are good that thieves haven’t entered the
Be skeptical if the gas pump has the, or a broken security seal
word “void” appears on it. All these are part of a program by the
Industry pump tampering.
Pick pumps closest to the physical
Building, not the ones hidden around the corner.
Use a credit card, not when you debit card
pay. You’re playing with the cash of the bank and protected by the card policy if a credit card number is skimmed. A debit card amount that is stolen could yield damage. “If a debit card has compromised, and they have your PIN, you have just given
Someone access to your money,” says Velasquez of the Identity Theft
Pay attention if it feels and to fueling
Weird, don’t do it. Sometimes, the card readers are also swapped out by thieves
attached to the skimmers. In those cases, they can deliver
An unusual feeling to the card — it may stick or otherwise
Not quite right. If that happens, cancel the transaction and pay
See related: 8 Strategies to protect against ATM skimming, “Shimming” is the latest fraud wrinkle
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