Gas Pump Skimming: It’s Still a Thing

Gas Pump Skimming: It’s Still a Thing

A little over a year ago, a shift in liability prompted most retailers to start accepting the more secure EMV cards (you know, those with the chip). Gas stations still had a couple of extra years to comply. The thinking was something along these lines: There are a lot of gas stations with a lot of credit card readers, many are small businesses, and upgrading payment technology can get expensive. One wonders if they didn’t also think about gas pump skimming.

Easy targets
Anyway, you still swipe your card to get gas. The result? Perhaps unsurprisingly, gas stations have been a favorite target for fraudsters recently. We’ve written about the record number of skimmers authorities found in Arizona alone. (Besides the fact that gas pumps use the old-school credit card readers, it doesn’t help that it’s so easy to install a skimmer on one. You can buy a near-universal gas-pump key and skimming devices on the internet.)

Four more years!
And now we learn that the powers that be—in this case, Visa and MasterCard—have extended the deadline for gas stations to accept EMV to October 2020. That’s close to another four years of less-than-ideal transactions when filling up your tank.

If there’s any silver lining, given the extra time, perhaps would-be skimmers will feel less pressure to skim from gas pumps…but we wouldn’t bet on it.

In any case, the rules for keeping yourself safe haven’t changed. Here they are:

  1. Walk everywhere.

Only joking. Our best advice hasn’t changed since the last time we gave it. The short version: Use a credit card—not a debit card. And keep an eye out for anything suspicious—broken seals, loose pump doors, or stations that are isolated or don’t have security cameras. Or walk inside to pay, perhaps with cash. Just lock your car when you step away from it.

As we often say, technology is always changing, but the risks to your identity haven’t seemed to lessen. Until they’re gone, we’ll be here to help our members protect themselves.

Posted by Jeff Rutledge, associate editor

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