Avoid Card Fraud at Gas Pumps

Just over a year ago, people reported losing more than $1.9 billion to fraud according to the Federal Trade Commission. First Commerce wants to empower you with the tools and tips to protect yourself from fraud. As the summer season heats up and more people are expected to travel by car, that means increased usage of debit and credit card payments at the gas pump.

Using your debit or credit card at the pump can be a convenient way to fill up your gas tank. However, it’s also an increasingly popular way for criminals to steal your card information. They do this by attaching devices to gas pump terminals called skimmers. These card skimming devices read the magnetic stripe on your credit or debit card when you slide it into a card reader. The skimmer then stores the card number, expiration date and cardholder’s name. Hackers use the stolen data to rack up fraudulent charges online or over the phone, sell your data, or create counterfeit cards.

How to Protect Yourself from Fraud at the Gas Pump

  1. Look for gas pumps that have a faulty credit card slot that looks different from the other card readers at the station. It might be setup for a credit card skimming fraud. Skimming devices are meant to be placed temporarily for a matter of hours or just a day. For that reason, they are attached using only double-sided tape, so thieves can easily remove them.
    • What to do: Before using your card, tug on the reader to ensure it is securely attached; skimmers will easily pop off with little effort.
  2. Look for tamper-evident stickers. Criminals usually infiltrate credit card mechanisms through the front panel of gas pumps. They implant devices internally, and these devices then capture the credit card information from within once customers swipe their cards.
    • What to do: Before using a gas pump, find out whether the pump has a tamper-evident sticker. If it has one that is placed on the unit correctly – across the opening of the door – and it reads “VOID”, move on to the next pump or station.
  3. Block the view of pinhole cameras. These inconspicuous cameras are so small that cardholders really have to be paying attention to spot them. They are sometimes used in conjunction with credit card skimmers to capture footage of customers entering their PIN numbers on debit cards. With this added information, criminals can commit debit card fraud and withdraw funds directly from accounts, as well as make fraudulent credit card purchases.
    • What to do: Try to use the credit card option for purchasing gas. If it is necessary to enter a PIN, use two hands when paying for gas at the pump. Use one hand for the transaction and place the other above the credit card screen to shield the keypad from view of lurking cameras above.
  4. When in doubt, use cash. While credit cards lend to convenience, if the situation does not feel right, go with your instincts, and use cash instead. This will help you bypass the skimmer altogether.

What to Do If Your Credit Card Is Skimmed

It’s always good practice to check your account or credit card statements to make sure the charges are correct. After filling up your car at a gas station, it’s important to check your accounts. If you review your statements or accounts and find that your credit card has indeed been skimmed, call your credit card or financial institution immediately to let them know about the fraudulent charges and to protect yourself from further criminal activity on that card.

Learn more about protecting yourself from fraud and identity theft at FirstCommerceCU.org/Fraud.

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Insured by NCUA. First Commerce does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. The information on this page is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal or accounting advisors for further guidance.

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Established in 1940, First Commerce is a full-service, not-for-profit credit union with locations across North Florida and South Georgia. We are a member-owned cooperative and committed to the communities we serve. Our purpose is to empower people to enhance their financial well-being by helping them achieve their financial goals – whether it’s simplifying their day-to-day finances, buying their first car or home, or building a great retirement. When you bank with First Commerce, you get a truly personal experience backed by 80 years of financial expertise.