Fraudsters are always looking for ways to separate you from your hard-earned money. One place where you may be most vulnerable is at the gas station, especially during the upcoming travel season. That’s because thieves install skimming devices on gas pumps that steal your credit or debit card information. They then sell the data, make fraudulent cards to withdraw cash from ATMs, or buy merchandise that they can sell.
How big is this problem? Just one pump with a skimmer can steal account information from 30 to 100 credit and debit cards a day, according to the National Association for Convenience Stores. Although transactions at retail stores have become more secure due to the implementation of EMV chip technology, gas stations have until 2020 to become compliant.
How to Spot a Skimmer
Skimmer devices are crafted to look like part of the machine but they’re never a perfect match. The color might be off, or a false keyboard may not match, with bigger keys than typical keyboards. If a skimmer is inside a fuel pump, the seal may be broken. Some gas stations put tape with serial numbers on the dispenser door for added protection, so check to see if it has tampered with. And if the card reader feels loose, don’t use it.
How to Protect Yourself
Paying with cash is the safest way to avoid fraud at the pump, but you may not always have it on hand. If you use a debit card, you may think that inputting your PIN adds extra protection, but the opposite is true. That’s because fraudsters will skim both your card number and PIN to make a fake card, and withdraw cash from an ATM. Avoid using your PIN and just run your debit card as credit, or pay inside the gas station, because the terminals should be EMV/chip compliant.
Sign up for eAlerts
SchoolsFirst FCU’s eAlerts can be activated for text-enabled mobile devices and via email to help you keep on top of your financial accounts.1 In addition to getting customizable notifications on things like available balances and payment due dates, you can also get these fraud alerts:
- Suspicious Activity Alerts warn you when a suspicious Debit Card transaction is identified.
- Declined Transaction Alerts tell you when your Debit Card has been blocked after a suspicious transaction is declined.
The Federal Trade Commission provides scam alerts that help you recognize the warning signs and avoid becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft. View their latest alerts.
Check out these other security stories:
- Data and text charges may apply. Check with your mobile provider.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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