How to protect yourself against credit card skimming

Woman paying with credit card for fuel

Reports of credit card skimmers at gas pumps continue to pop up throughout Travis County. Recently, Travis County deputies announced a crack down on credit card skimmers in the Wells Branch area over the past few weeks. Authorities arrested two people in connection with credit card skimmers since the crack down began on October 8th.

The scheme works when skimmers, illegal card readers, are attached to gas pumps that take data off a card’s magnetic stripe. Thieves will also place a tiny pinhole camera above the keypad to record pin entries. Criminals use the stolen data by either selling your information or to buy things online.

Investigators with Travis County Sheriff’s Office have found that card information swiped with skimmers is often used to purchase diesel to illegally resell.

The good news is there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

  1. Inspect the credit card reader.
    • Take a careful look at the card reader before swiping your card.
    • Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering.
    • Look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage.
    • If something appears out of the ordinary, pay inside or move to another gas pump.
  2. Protect your PIN.
    • When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to protect your private PIN from any cameras in the vicinity.
    • Try to use a credit card, but if you must use a debit card, run it as credit instead of entering a PIN.
  3. Monitor your statements.
    • Even the most careful person can still fall victim to skimmers, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your accounts.
    • Look for suspicious charges and particularly the itemized breakdown of charges and debits.
    • Report any fraudulent activity to your financial institution as soon as you discover it.

 

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