How Scammers can Steal your Credit Card Information at a Gas Station

Written by S. Arteta and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Identity theft poses as an increasing concern for the government of the United States and in Europe. Under certain surveys from the USA, there had been a dramatic increase in the total value of identity fraud from US$47.6 billion in 2003 to $15.6 billion in 2006. At present, this figure was believed to have doubled.

One of the ways on how one's identity is stolen is by way of swiping cards at fuel pumping stations or terminals. Cases of theft using said means increased dramatically and continues to increase at an alarming rate. The information of a credit card holder falls into the hands of the thief by way of installing a skimmer device.

A skimmer is a small electronic device that is placed on the outside - and sometimes inside - a credit card process machine in gas pumps. The device saves all digital information scanned at the pump which means that the thief has gained access to every credit card number, expiration date and verification code for every card holder who uses credit card to pay for gas.

In some cases, authorities discovered that these thieves have even installed pinhole cameras on the skimmer devices so that they could watch the consumers enter their PIN codes for their bank account into the credit card processing machine. There were reports that some of these thieves work part-time on the pump stations so that they could easily install these devices.

In order for identity theft to be prevented, it is advised that consumers must use their credit cards in buying gas than using debit cards. This is because using a debit card in a card processing machine installed with a skimmer device will lead the thief to confidential bank information of the consumer. This is dangerous since not all banks offer debit card protection. This means that if an unauthorized person withdraws money through your debit card, the consumer will not be able to recover the money withdrawn.

As compared to banks, credit card companies offer better protection against identity theft since they allow the consumer to dispute fraudulent charges. It is also advisable for consumers to use fuel pumps closest to the cashier or building. This is because skimmer devices are mostly installed on gas pumps which are father away from security cameras, cashiers and customers. Consumers are also called to inspect the credit card machines. If the machine looks odd, funny or suspicious, it is most likely that the same contain an installed skimmer device.

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