If you’re like so many of us who swipe your credit card when you get gas, you might want to rethink how you are paying.
Gas stations are a relatively easy place for criminals to steal credit and debit card numbers. In fact, in May 2008, an investigation started in San Jose California in which thieves stole more than $200,000 from 180 victims at gas stations. And, authorities estimate that between $1 million and $3.5 million has been stolen from victims of gas pump identity theft in five states over recent months, according to identitytheft.com.
Like most methods of identity theft, gas pump “skimming” is virtually impossible to prevent. Thieves install electronic skimmers that store credit or debit card numbers as well as pin numbers then they use that data to make duplicate cards. The skimmers are unnoticeable and can be kept on the pump for months.
Solution? Cash is best. But if you can’t do that, then buy prepaid gas cards. They’re just as convenient and you don’t have to worry about the risk. Lots of gas stations sell them as well as some grocery or convenience stores. Many of them even offer rewards or special discounts, so make sure you do your research and pick one that works for you.
It is also a good idea to shred all gas receipts and keep an eye on your credit card if you do happen to hand it to an attendant. And always, always, always, review your credit card statements monthly for suspicious charges and monitor your credit report regularly.