Visa Warns of New Sophisticated Scammer Tactic to Steal Your Card Information at Gas Stations

BBB Consumer Alerts
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Remember skimming? That’s the con where scammers inserted a device into ATMs and gas station card readers, harvesting your payment information as you swipe your credit or debit card. Scammers succeeded with this tactic for a while, but skimmers don’t work for cards with newer chip technology.

Con artists’ new way to steal payment information has evolved even further, giving them access to card information via Bluetooth and offline by going through the back end of the gas station’s point of sale system. Gone are the days that skimmers were bulky and easy detect; this new piece of technology is slim and virtually undetectable.

The hack doesn’t appear to affect more secure chip cards, but many of the service stations haven’t replaced card readers at the pumps yet. Visa has given all fuel merchants across the United States until October 2020 to update their card readers to be equipped to read EMV transactions. EMV — which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa — is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. Unlike magnetic-stripe cards, every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again, making it much more difficult to duplicate a card.  After October 2020, any service stations without the new tech will be liable for any fraudulent purchases made via their point-of-sale systems.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to prevent falling victim:

  • Keep a close eye on your bank and credit accounts. Check your online statements regularly to make sure there are no suspicious charges. If you see any, report them to your bank or credit card company immediately. Use the customer service number on the back of the card to be sure you are reaching the real company and not an imposter. Make sure you contact the bank, merchant and your card issuer if you ever suspect your card has been compromised.
  • Be wary if your card gets stuck in a chip reader. If the reader seems to have a tighter than normal grip on your card, there could be a shim inside. You may want to cancel your transaction and notify the business.
  • Only use cards with a chip when making transactions. Whether at a gas station or ATM, limit your card use to only those that have the chip. If you do not have the new card, when possible, go into the bank to draw money and go inside to pay for your gas with cash.
  • Download a scanning app. Developers have created free apps that detect common Bluetooth based credit card skimmers predominantly found in gas pumps.

Source: BBB.org and Forbes

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org

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