- Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering. Many stations now put security seals over the cabinet panel. This is part of a voluntary program by the industry to thwart gas pump tampering. If the pump panel is opened, the label will read “void,” which means the machine has been tampered with.
- Take a good look at the card reader itself. Does it look different than other readers at the station? For example, the card reader on the left has a skimmer attached; the reader on the right doesn’t.
- You can try to wiggle the card reader before you put in your card. If it moves, report it to the attendant. Then use a different pump.
- If you use a debit card at the pump, run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN. That way, the PIN is safe and the money isn’t deducted immediately from your account. If that’s not an option, cover your hand when entering your PIN. Scammers sometimes use tiny pinhole cameras, situated above the keypad area, to record PIN entries.
- Monitor your credit card and bank accounts regularly to spot unauthorized charges.
- If you’re really concerned about skimmers, you can pay inside rather than at the pump. Another option is to use a gas pump near the front of the store. Thieves may target gas pumps that are harder for the attendant to see.
Sources: Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/avoid-skimmers-pump