5 ways to protect yourself from credit card skimmers at gas pumps

In this 2016 file photo, Tom Kamphaus of the Butler County Auditor’s Office examines the inside of a gas pump at a Shell station in West Chester Twp. GREG LYNCH/2016
Caption
In this 2016 file photo, Tom Kamphaus of the Butler County Auditor’s Office examines the inside of a gas pump at a Shell station in West Chester Twp. GREG LYNCH/2016

Three more illegal credit card skimmers have been found at Butler County gas stations, according to the auditor’s office.

Explore MORE: 3 credit card skimmers found at Butler County gas stations this month

During weekly sweeps, inspectors found two of the credit card copying devices on Friday and another on Monday, bringing the latest skimmer intercepts to five since July 13.

Explore WATCH: Hidden camera catches possible skimmer criminal in Butler County

Here are 5 ways you can protect your credit card and bank account information at the gas pump:

1. Stick close to the store

Choose a fuel dispenser that’s close to the store — ideally, one with security cameras installed nearby, recommends the money advice website NerdWallet. Criminals would be less likely to tamper with pumps that are visible to workers inside the store.

2. Avoid ancient-looking gas pumps

Opt for well-maintained service stations is the advice of Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds.

“If the pump looks 20 to 30 years old, then you should expect the lock to be easily breached,” he said.

Some stations have adopted visible anti-tampering measures, such as placing tamper-resistant tape over the front panel edges, according to NerdWallet.

3. Don’t be afraid to wiggle that dispenser

Here are some questions NerdWallet suggests you ask before inserting your card: Does it look like the front panel has been pried apart? Is the keypad raised, rather than flush against the console? Do its buttons look different from the ones at neighboring pumps? Does the card reader look different? Is the reader loose in its socket?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the pump may have been tampered with; don’t use it.

And report any unusual activity or anything that looks out of place to the store employee.

4. Pay with cash

No card use means no risk of skimming, Reynolds says. Never use a debit card at a gas station pump: If you have to use a debit card, go inside to pay.

When a credit card is run through a skimmer, the small device stores the cardholder’s data. Once the credit information is obtained, the thief can then sell the information or clone the credit card. Thieves steal PIN numbers, Reynolds said.

5. Watch your statements if you use a credit card

If you buy gas with a credit card, keep a close watch on your statement, advises Reynolds.

Monitor monthly statements of your bank card and credit card for fraudulent charges. If you believe you have been a victim of a skimmer scam, notify police as well as your bank and credit card issuer immediately.

Sources: NerdWallet and Butler County Auditor’s Office.