Over the last several months we’ve seen a significant increase in debit card fraud related to use at gas pump terminals – specifically in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties. This problem is not unique to us, as local authorities and other financial institutions are seeing the same trend. Since your security is our top priority, we want to make sure you have the knowledge to safeguard your card information when making purchases at a gas station.
We’re not trying to scare you, but we want to make sure you know how to protect your information and spot potential scams. Staying aware of your surroundings and checking your accounts frequently are simple ways to protect your information from ending up in the wrong hands.
How to Safely Use a Debit Card at Gas Stations
Before you insert your card into any gas pump terminal, take a second to check out the machine. Make sure the security tape around the terminal isn’t ripped or pulled off. The security door should be locked and should not be loose. After you've looked at the front of the machine, check the card reader itself and give it a tug to check for a possible skimming device. Card readers are securely attached to terminals, so they should never be loose or pop off. If this happens, don’t use the machine and notify the gas station attendant immediately.
We also advise using the ‘debit’ payment option and entering your PIN when using a debit card at a gas pump. Make sure to cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN so the people around you cannot see your personal number. If you forgot your PIN or need help setting one up, call PIN Now at 800.992.3808.
To use the ‘credit’ payment option without a PIN or to use your Lake Trust Credit Card, take a minute to go inside the gas station to pay for your fuel. Inside, you’ll be able to use the secure EMV chip function on the payment terminal. The extra security features on an EMV chip card cannot be enabled unless the card is inserted into a chip reader (versus swiping your card using the magnetic strip).
Why Gas Stations Are a Target
Criminals tend to target gas pumps because most of these terminals don’t have EMV chip readers yet and aren’t required to install them until 202012. While most stores have converted their payment terminals to EMV readers, gas stations have been given an extended deadline to convert due to the high cost of replacing fuel pumps.
Gas pumps are also a hot target for criminals because they can gather a lot of information in a short amount of time using a skimming device. This device ‘skims’, or steals, your card information when you put it into a payment terminal. This information is later used to make fraudulent purchases or to create fraudulent cards. Criminals often target pumps that are out of the line of sight of the gas station attendant or pumps that are in poorly lit areas of the station. It's a good idea to pick a pump in a well-lit area that is close to the station attendant or store.
Keep In Mind
Monitor your accounts regularly in Online Banking and check over your transaction history to verify that all of the purchases were made by you. Remember that your debit card is protected by Mastercard®’s Zero Liability Protection1, meaning you’re not responsible for any fraudulent activity made on your card. Rest assured that we have a robust fraud monitoring system in place. However, if you suspect fraud on your account, make sure to give us a call at 888.267.7200 or visit us at a branch so we can help you.
Thank you for your vigilance and for keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. We appreciate your help in preventing more fraudulent activity.
1Third party website. Lake Trust Credit Union is not responsible for the content, availability, security or compliance of any linked third party websites. In addition, the site's privacy policies may differ from those of Lake Trust.
2EMV at the Pump. (2018). Visa.com. Retrieved from https://usa.visa.com/visa-everywhere/security/emv-at-the-pump.html