In the age of credit cards and pay at the pump technologies, criminals have found ways to take advantage of unsuspecting hard working motorists. Sir Isaac Newton famously said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. We certainly feel the effects of this relationship in our daily lives. Modern day criminals invented rudimentary skimmers, which is a small device installed directly on the credit card machine or pump. The balance.com, a website devoted to the world of banking explains, “When a credit or debit card is swiped through a skimmer, the device captures and stores all the details stored in the card's magnetic stripe. The stripe contains the credit card number, expiration date and the credit card holder's full name. Thieves use the stolen data to make fraudulent charges either online or with a counterfeit credit card.”
The counter measure to skimmers was the advent of the EMV chip card. Unfortunately this technology hasn’t been implemented quickly across the United States, especially at pay at the pump machines. According to FICO, “The number of credit or debit cards compromised at U.S. ATMs and merchants rose 39 percent in the first six months of 2017 vs. the same period in 2016. FICO has also tracked a 21 percent increase in compromises of ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) devices in the US in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.” While retailers hurry to implement the EMV chip card reading machines, criminals are forced to a smaller pool of targets. This has led to a larger number of retail fueling stations becoming targets.
While fueling is something we all have to do, there are some simple steps to follow in order to not be an easy target for a skimmer. Credit Cards.com gives the following basic advice:
- Use your eyes: Look before you insert your card.
- Use your fingers: If something doesn’t feel right, move on.
- Use your phone: Apps now can alert you to possible skimmers.
- Use your common sense: Use fuel pumps and ATMs in safe places.