CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty-three percent of American drivers suspect they've been a victim of credit card or debit card skimming at a gas pump in the past 12 months, according to a new report from CompareCards.com. That's up from 15 percent just a year ago, and concerns over skimming are leading more and more people to change their payment habits at the pump.
Skimming is a type of fraud in which card data is stolen by attaching hard-to-detect devices to ATMs or gas station payment terminals. These devices read and store the data, which is transmitted to the fraudsters, who then either sell the information or use it themselves to make fraudulent purchases.
- The percentage of drivers who said they suspect they were a victim of skimming in the past 12 months has risen to 23 percent in 2019 from 15 percent in 2018.
- Fifty-one percent of respondents said they've changed the way they pay for gas because of skimming concerns. Last year, that was 38 percent.
- Thirty-seven percent of people said they're more worried about skimming than they were 12 months ago.
- Thirty-three percent of people said they'd heard of a friend/relative/co-worker who had been a victim of skimming.
- The higher your income, the more likely you are to say you have been a victim.
- The younger you are, the more likely you are to say that you've been a victim and that you have changed the way you pay.
Credit card skimming has been a major problem at gas stations for several years. That's because while most other merchants had to upgrade their payment terminals back in 2015 to work with new EMV or smart-chip credit cards -- which are far less susceptible to skimming because of the technology embedded in the chip -- gas stations have not yet had to do so. The major credit card networks, which mandated the upgrade to chip-compatible terminals, gave gas stations until October 2020 to upgrade their payment terminals because the process is typically far costlier for gas stations, often requiring them to replace an entire fuel pump, not just a payment terminal.
"Card skimming at the pump has become more common because it is a low-hanging fruit for bad guys, and things might get a little worse before they get better," said Matt Schulz, Chief Industry Analyst for CompareCards. "Fraudsters know that their work will become much harder once gas stations upgrade their terminals next year, so they're likely to do whatever they can to take advantage of the opportunity. That's yet another reason why it's so important for Americans to build regular fraud checks into their financial routine, starting today."
Schulz continued, "The best way to protect yourself from skimming is be aware of your surroundings and to walk away if you suspect a payment terminal has been compromised. Don't be afraid to wiggle the card reader if something doesn't look right, and know that if you are able to move it, that's a sign that it might have been tampered with. And when in doubt, use a credit card rather than a debit card. If a bad guy gets a hold of your debit card information, they can take real money out of a real account. That won't happen with a credit card, which makes it a much safer choice than debit."
To view the full report, including more tips for protecting yourself against skimming, visit https://www.comparecards.com/blog/card-skimming-at-gas-pump-study/.
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CompareCards' mission is to help people make smarter, more informed, healthier financial decisions based on deeper knowledge of financial offers. Each month, over 2.9 million visitors come to CompareCards' website to independently compare credit cards side-by-side and choose a credit card based on interest rate, reward benefit, cost savings, and other factors that are important to each person. CompareCards provides easy-to-use, objective tools and educational resources that help people do everything from making credit card comparisons to managing their credit health. For more information, please visit www.comparecards.com.
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