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Illegal credit card skimming: Three habits I changed at the gas pump

Jan 27, 2020, 10:47 AM | Updated: Aug 30, 2022, 3:34 pm
Credit Card Skimming Device...
Photo: Getty Images

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

SALT LAKE CITY — Now that my three kids are grown, I fill up my credit card gets used to fill my gas tank less often. There’s no doubt that ditching my mom taxi has saved me hundreds of dollars a year.

So, the last thing I want is for a hidden credit card skimming device to rob me blind.

THREE HABITS I CHANGED

I’ve spent my career reporting on fraud and finances. To be honest, at the gas pump all my energy is spent digging under seats to rid my car of used coffee cups and discarded receipts.

So when I caught a post on Linked In about how simple it is for a cyber-crook to skim, AKA steal, my debit or credit card number while I’m in a state of cluelessness, I decided to immediately change three habits.

First, hats off to Matt Christensen who hosts Fraud Not Frog, an Anti-Fraud podcast. I caught his warning about gas pump skimming on LinkedIn.

“The truth is, no gas station is immune.”

Oh no! Tell me more, Matt.

“Use the pump closest to the attendant window,” he wrote. Also:

Never enter your PIN if you are prompted. Yes, you can run debit as credit.

“Check for wires hanging out or friction when you insert your card,” and report it, he warned.

My interpretation of Matt’s solid advice:

Thieves don’t like to be seen, so use a gas pump in plain view.

Entering your PIN gives a thief keys to the kingdom – unfettered access to your checking and saving accounts.

Lastly, if you see wires, don’t chalk it up to a station attendant forgetting to call a repairman.

HOW CREDIT CARD SKIMMING DEVICES ROB YOU BLIND

According to the FBI, skimming costs banks and consumers $1 billion a year. Thieves install the illegal devices at gas stations, ATMs, and parking meters – places you swipe your credit and debit cards.

We invited Cybersecurity expert, and CEO of Nexus IT, Earl Foote, on the Dave & Dujanovic show to elaborate.

“This is actually happening right here in Utah,” said Foote.

In fact, a wife of one of his employees inadvertently knocked a credit card skimming device off a gas pump once, he said.

When you swipe, these devices capture your card data and wirelessly transmit it to crooks. And you won’t figure it out until it’s too late.

Swipe your debit card, enter your PIN, a crook can instantly drain your bank account; swipe a credit card and they can run up your balance.

Foote says if the pump gives you an option to tap your card, do so, because thieves primarily install devices so they can skim – or steal — your card information as you swipe.

“You’ve got to be careful, said Foote. “Inspect a bit before you put your card in.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Illegal credit card skimming: Three habits I changed at the gas pump