How to Spot Card Skimmers at the Gas Pump


Federal officials are reminding customers to be aware of card skimmers at the gas pump.

While these credit card skimmers aren't anything new, the Federal Trade Commission is warning people that with better tech, they're getting smaller and harder to spot.

Skimmers are small devices that are able to scan and store data from the magnetic strips on the back of credit and debit cards.

Gas stations are some of the last to install fraud reducing EMV-chip card readers, so they remain some of the more likely targets to hit.

San Diego County's Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspector Kevin Porter says the new skimmers are able to be placed inside the machine, out of sight.

"They're able to put a splice or a device in between the credit card reader and where it goes into the computer. They're able to then steal the credit card numbers as people use them."

To prevent your information from being taken, the department released a few tips to protect yourself:

1. Choose a pump that's close to the store. Criminals are less likely to tamper with pumps near security cameras or in sight of the cashier.

2. Look for audit tape. Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn't show signs of tampering. Many gas stations now have security seals over the panel. If the pump panel is opened, the label will read "void," which means someone has tampered with the machine.

3. Take a closer look at the card reader. Does it look different? Just to be sure, physically pull on the card reader to make sure it's permanent. If it moves, report it to the attendant and use a different pump.

4. Go inside. Pay with the cashier instead of at the pump.

5. Use cash instead of a card. If you don't feel comfortable, pay with cash.

They say that if you think your card info has been taken, you should report it to your bank or card issuer.

The FTC also suggests filing a complaint with them to help protect other consumers from fraud.


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