Ask anyone who has ever lost their wallet and they will tell you they would never want to go through that experience again. Not only does it mean you lose the cash you had, but it may also mean that you have exposed credit cards and other vital information.
But today, it takes much more than merely looking after your wallet to keep your private data safe. Crooks have designed several techniques of stealing credit card information even if you are watching. It does not matter that you have never for a second let your fuel card out of your sight.
For most thieves, the pumps are prime targets. By using devices known as skimmers, fraudsters have designed a method of lifting fuel customers’ data directly from a fuelcard, and they will never have a clue about it.
Millions of British people visit pump stations to fill up on fuel. A sizeable part of these people pays for their fuel with UK fuel cards. That means you must take deliberate steps to keep your card safe from fraudsters. In this article, we tell you how to outsmart card skimmers. Read on to learn more.
What are card skimmers?
Card skimmers can be defined as small electronic gadgets that thieves install secretly at payment terminals. Upon swiping your fuelcard to pay for fuel, the devices lift the information found on the magnetic stripe of the card. The criminals then use the data they have stolen to create counterfeit cards or make fraudulent purchases.
Card skimmers at fuel pumps
All payment terminals are potential targets for skimmers, crooks like fuel pump most because they form perfect places for concealing and retrieving their skimming gadgets. If not detected, one card skimmer secretly installed at a fuel pump can steal data from up to 100 cards in one day.
Card skimmers are available in two types, and these are internal and external card skimmers. An internal device gets installed when the thieves break into the pump via the fuel dispenser door. On the other hand, an external card skimmer is set up over a preexisting card reader, concealed in plain sight.
Signs that a fuel pump has a skimmer
It’s not easy to detect card skimmers at the fuel pump, which is one of the reasons they are a target for crooks. While there are no ironclad methods of detecting compromised fuel pumps, here are signs to look out for:
Something looks off.
In most cases, skimming only occurs at one pump. Therefore, next time you want to fill up, take a good look at the nearby pumps. The card reader installed at your pump should look exactly like the others. If it does not, then you should immediately as a gas station worker. Also, if you notice that something is not right, make sure you speak to the pump attendant.
Broken Safety Seal
Most fuel stations have security stickers with serial numbers across the doors of dispensers on their fuel pumps. For crooks to secretly install a card skimmer, they must break the seal. Therefore, a torn sticker on a fuel pump could be a sign that it has a skimmer.
Signs of tampering are visible
It is not at all times that dispenser doors will have a security sticker. If not, check the door carefully to see if there is any unusual scraping around the edges. This is usually indicative of forced opening. If the card reader has loose housing, or if you find that inserting your card is difficult, it could mean that a skimmer has been installed.
Should you encounter a fuel pump with any of the warnings above, do not insert your fuelcard. The best course of action to take is to alert the pump employee right away.
Tips to Avoid Falling Prey to Card Skimmers
The number of cards affected by skimming devices is not that high. Still, skimmers are there and you must always be observant. Below are some of the precautions to protect you from these illegal gadgets.
Always Choose Highly Visible Pumps to Fuel Up On
Crooks tend to choose fuel pumps that are located in hidden locations. That is because these stations are away from activities and are targeted by thieves. To reduce your risk of getting your card information stolen, choose cards that are in clear view of pump employees. The chances of a fraudster planting a card skimmer on a pump near a gas station are fewer.
Check your statements.
Keeping track of your UK fuels card account is a good practice for everyone. Fortunately, most card programs allow customers to check their accounts instantly and in real-time. It only takes a couple of minutes to check your card statement, and you can rest easy knowing that it has not been tampered with. In case you spot any suspicious transactions, contact the card provider right away.
Pay inside whenever you are in doubt
Although thinking smart can help you minimize the risk of your card information being stolen by a secretly installed skimmer, no single precaution can be said to be foolproof. If, for any reason, you are ever unsure, feel free to bypass the card reader of the fuel pump entirely and pay inside.
One of the main advantages of switching to the UK fuels card is its ability to protect you from fraud by your employees. But fuel cards have risks, too. Criminals target motorists and steal their card information when they swipe them at the fuel pump. To avoid exposing your card to fraudsters, take the necessary measures that include inspecting a fuel pump for any suspicious activities and regularly checking your statements to nab a problem when it is still early. As it is commonly said, an ounce of prevention is far better than a pound of cure.