11/1/2011 4:13 PM ET|
Buy gas, get card data ripped off
The convenience of paying at the pump may come with risks you hadn't considered. Here's how to protect yourself from thieves, or at least minimize the damage should you fall victim.
The gas pump you use to fill up your car might look innocuous. But trouble could be lurking inside.
Crooks are targeting gas pumps across country in skimming attacks to steal customers' credit card and bank account information.
If you think high gas prices are a rip-off, just wait until you get your credit card bill or see your bank statement after falling victim to a gas pump that has been tampered with.
Credit card and debit card skimming scams
Here's how it works: Crooks attach an inexpensive device called a skimmer inside or onto a gas pump. The skimmer captures credit and debit card information every time customers swipe their cards. Sometimes a secondary PIN pad is installed to capture PIN numbers, or a tiny camera is attached to record video of customers punching in their PINs.
Investigators say it takes crooks less than a minute to install the equipment. They return after a time to retrieve the equipment or, in some cases, use wireless devices that transmit the data directly to them. Then they use the information to make counterfeit cards and run up purchases or empty bank accounts.
The crime has been reported from San Francisco to New York and in big and small cities in between. Usually, organized-crime networks or gangs are behind skimming operations.
So how do you keep your credit card and debit card accounts safe at the gas pumps?
Tips for credit card use at gas stations
- Check your credit card balances frequently online. Make sure no fraudulent purchases have been made. If you find something awry on any of your accounts, call your credit card companies immediately.
- Go inside to pay for gas purchases. Sure, it's less convenient than paying at the pump, but your credit card transaction is safer.
- Use credit cards instead of debit cards if you pay at the pump. If crooks get hold of your debit card, they could empty your bank account. With your credit card information, they can run up fraudulent purchases, but they can't steal your hard-earned savings. Although debit cards with Visa and MasterCard logos have zero-liability policies, you could still be out of cash while you work out the situation with your bank. Consider gasoline credit cards that offer rebates on gas purchases and other items.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Why not show us what to look for??
Show us the skimmer so we know it when we see it??
It's time to get serious with the criminals 10 years with no parole for the first offense of credit card theft, life without parole for the second offense. I'll bet the criminals would get the message, life without parole if you steal someone's identity, first offense. You need to send a strong message to the scum. Throw in sterilization for both offenses just for good measure.
Criminals should know if caught, make the price high enough to deter if they're caught.
Hawkeye 1's comments go in the right direction but I don't want to pay for room and board form these thieves for 10 years at 80k to 90k per year. They should go into work camps for 5 years and they live on what they make at min. wage. Don't forget they chose their course. Lets clean up our society.
My debit card info was stolen about a year ago to date, close to christmas at a gas station I used because of the gas price (there is a specific one I typically go to where I live). Randomly I was checking my statement a few days later before christmas shopping and low and behold, about $500.00 worth of random transactions (domain names purchased, skype time used, among many $1.00 purchases to see if my card was still active, which is very common once your card is stolen). I panicked and called my bank immediately (after calling my mother lol), they cancelled my card, got me a new one, I filed a police report (but just so you know, the thieves are rarely ever identified let alone caught and punished). Thankfully after a few days of paperwork my bank reimbursed me for every purchase made that wasn't by me. Yes, it was an annoyance but I'm thankful for those who helped me through the process; that being said, it's a process no one should have to go through because no one but ME is entitled to the money I have worked very hard as a 22 year old to earn. I learned even more about scammers like this from a documentary which I wish I could tell people where to watch, it may have actually been ran by msnbc. My advise is to check your statement online weekly ESPECIALLY AROUND HOLIDAYS!!!!
Happened in Pittsboro, Indiana. My family member makes only three charges a month on their card, so it was easy to spot when the charges came in from a place on the east coast.
My debit card was pirated at either of three places, a Carrabas, an Out Back, or a parking lot where you buy a ticket. The thieves charged $250 at one place then tried to charge $700 at another place. The credit card company phoned me. I was able to retrieve the money after
a police report was made but I never heard whether the thieves were apprehended or prosecuted. Your really have to be vigilent every where you use your cards. I have been issued
a new account and card.
@ bama bill
if i am not paying for my food with cash, i follow my credit card to where ever they r taking it. i actually go with my card! if they give me a hard time i just tell them they will not get paid if i can't do this. i never let my card out of site i keep it on my person untill they scan it in front of me! just saying
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