Learn how protect yourself against debit card skimmers

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Gas pump based credit and debit card scams have become all too common for those just looking to fill up their vehicle’s fuel tank. Even when being careful, it’s not uncommon to discover hundreds of dollars removed from a personal bank account within a day. While most banks will alert the cardholder and put a temporary hold on the card to prevent future purchases, that’s not always a guarantee.

To keep card skimmers from abusing your credit card, here are a few precautionary guidelines to follow.

It’s important to understand that, no matter how careful one is, anyone can be a possible victim for credit/debit card abuse. The best way to protect your financial information is to be prepared for the eventuality that someone is going to try and steal your card number. Speak with your bank and request a notification be placed on your cards that notify when a charge has been made. This is especially useful for large purchases or when traveling out of your home area.

Use a gas pump that is closer to the store and is within view of the store clerk. The out of the way pumps are often the ones most targeted. When at the gas pump, check beforehand to see if the card slot is secure. Depending on the pump type, scam artists will place a device that fits right over the actual card reader so your information (such as your card and PIN number) is recorded and sent to their device, and not the pump. If the card reader seems loose, avoid using your card at that pump. Many gas pumps use security tape to show if a credit card reader has been compromised. Check to see if the tape is still unbroken and intact.

When using your card, never use your PIN number. Use your card as a credit card and only use your zip code. Stolen debit card numbers can also open up other options, such as accessing your financial information at an ATM, or a store (such as a grocery store or department store) that allows for cash back.

If your financial information has been compromised by a credit card scam, go through your financial history. Scammers usually test the waters by making a series of small purchases at a convenience store before going for multiple high value purchases. Keep a record of all your information, and talk to your bank to discuss any unfamiliar charges. In most cases, the bank will reverse all the fraudulent charges, but that process takes time, and your current card will be deactivated until a new credit/debit card is issued.

Whenever you suspect a gas pump has been compromised, inform the store manager, and/or contact your local police department.

Gas pump scams are an unpleasant, but common practice. With the correct preventative measures, and paying attention to details at the gas pump, locals can lessen the risk of being tricked by these shady schemes.

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