News reports show that an average of 20 to 30 skimmers are brought in by the police every week. What’s worse, each of these devices steals the information of around 80 cards before they’re discovered!
Recently, a new breed of advanced skimmers known as “shimmers”—have started being used; these can even read the data from new, chip-based cards.
And whilethe US Secret Service’s initiative to carry out a nationwide search ofcredit card skimming devices installed at gas stations has slowed down this theft epidemic, you’llstill have to take proactive measures to prevent protect your gas station.
What is credit card skimming?
A credit card skimmer is a device that’s attached to legitimate card scanners. It records your card’s data through its magnetic stripe when inserted into the scanner. This stolen information is then sold online or used by the thief.
These devices are temporarily affixed, usually at places like gas stations, ATMs, or other self-service POS terminals like metro station ticket kiosks which receive a lot of traffic. Skimmer technology hasbecome sophisticated over the years, allowing thieves to record your PIN through a miniature camera.
How can it be prevented?
The obvious way to protect yourself from credit card skimmers is to observe if the card reader has been tampered with. In the case of fuel pumps, the fuel dispenser door has to be opened to discreetly place the skimmer, which means that the seal willhave to be broken. But the real challenge is detectingtheseminiature devices.
Since there’s no foolproof way to avoid skimmers, what else can you do to protect your card information at gas pumps?
Pay inside rather than at the pump
If you have the option to pay for gas inside a gas station or convenience store, make the extra effort to go inside for the transaction. It’s less likely that the fraudster will have placedthe skimmer on the POS terminal that is right next to a clerk.
Choose stations with a lot of surrounding traffic
If the gas station is located in a remote location that’s hidden by buildings, avoid it! Being out of the range ofa watchful eye makes these places susceptible to credit card skimmers. The location should be well lit and experience high foot traffic.
Keep a watchful eye on your card statements
Monitor your financial statements for fraudulent charges. Setting up alerts and notification whenever your cards are used is an easy way to keep a track of your transactions.
Use a digital wallet instead
Using mobile payments apps like Apple Pay or Android Pay will allow you to fuel up using ATMs that offer cardless access. Using the bank or gas stations’ mobile wallet is another way to ensure that your card isn’t inserted into the card reader.
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