One of the riskiest consumer behaviors you probably don’t know about is paying for gas with your debit card.
Why? Gas pumps are especially vulnerable when it comes to card skimming devices that thieves use to steal your card information. And unlike a credit card, you can’t just do a charge back when you get cleaned out by a criminal. Recovering your money from a stolen debit card is much more difficult.
Card skimming, in which an illegal reader is attached to a payment terminal, is a pervasive financial scam, particularly at the gas pump. According to the National Association for Convenience Stores, a single compromised pump at a gas station can compromise 30 to 100 cards every day in the U.S.
“These card readers grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without your knowledge,” warns the FTC. “Criminals sell the stolen data or use it to buy things online. You won’t know your information has been stolen until you get your statement or an overdraft notice.”
It’s a common problem that’s growing by the year, but it’s easy enough to avoid if you take a few extra precautions.