Tips to Avoid Being Scammed by Skimmers

Skimming fraud is growing in popularity among criminals. During the first six months of 2017, the number of compromised ATMs and point-of-sale devices jumped 21 percent, compared to the first six months of 2016, according to data from FICO. Meanwhile, the number of compromised cards soared 39 percent.

Approximately 39 million Americans fill-up every day and fuel dispensers have become one of many targets for thieves looking to steal credit and debit card information by “skimming,” an aggressive tactic used to illegally obtain consumer card data for fraudulent purposes. Skimming occurs when a third-party card-reading device is installed either outside or inside a fuel dispenser, which allows a thief to capture a customer’s credit and debit card information to create counterfeit cards.

To help deter thieves and protect consumers, many stations, like Break Time, place security seals on fuel pumps and dispensers, which are inspected daily. Broken or voided security seals are a sign that a pump may have been tampered with by crooks.

To reduce your risk of having your card compromised by skimmers, follow the guidelines below:

  • Check for obvious signs of tampering.
    If a pump’s security seal is broken or it says VOID OPEN, report it to the cashier immediately.
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card, when you pay.
    If a credit card number is skimmed, you’re playing with the bank’s money and protected by the card’s zero-liability policy. A stolen debit card number could yield far worse damage. Whereas credit card transactions can be halted and reversed at any time, unauthorized debit transactions are more problematic, especially if the criminals have your PIN.
  • Use your card issuer’s fraud alerts and check your statements.
    Set up fraud alerts on your credit cards. Nearly every issuer offers these, and many will email and/or text you when your card is used at a gas station. Check your credit card and debit card transactions frequently to make sure no fraudulent activity has occurred.