Protect Yourself from Fuel Station Skimmers

Withevery day passing, the number of scams and crimes are increasing. No matterwhat part of Singapore you live in, you are always exposed to criminals andskimmers who are ready to loot you in various ways. You don’t have to carry asuitcase with a million-dollar to get robbed. You can be scammed and“robbed” even when you fuel your vehicle. Yes, that’s right! Fuelstation skimming is a popular issue these days where people end up losing theirbank details to smart hackers. But here are some ways to avoid falling intothis pit of loss.

Usea Credit Card

Itis always better to take precautions at your end to avoid any losses or scams.And for this, if you have to change the way you usually live, it’s worth theeffort. If you are concerned about fraud, use a credit card instead of yourdebit card. You should avoid using your debit card when pumping gas to avoidgiving away your valuable details to the skimmer. If you use a debit card andbad guys get a hold of your information, they can take real money from a realaccount. If a credit card number is skimmed, you’re playing with the bank’smoney and protected by the card’s zero-liability policy. A stolen debit cardnumber could yield far worse damage. If a debit card gets compromised, and theyhave your PIN, you’ve just given someone access to your cash. If bills come dueat that time that the money is missing, it can cause some real headaches.That’s not something you need to worry about with a credit card.

Tryto Spot a Skimmer

Spottinga Skimmer in advance will help you avoid any chances of falling into scams ortraps. Take a good look at the gas pump panel. If it’s closed, doesn’t showsigns of tampering or the station’s security seal is intact, the pump isprobably good to go. Is the keypad raised, rather than flush against theconsole? Do its buttons look different from the ones at neighboring pumps?Station employees may place serial-numbered security tape across the dispenserdoor, so check to see if the tape has been broken. If there’s no tape, check tosee if the dispenser door looks as though it has been forced open. Also,examine the card reader. If it looks different than other readers at thestation, take caution. Wiggling the card reader can also provide a clue. If itmoves, use a different pump. Some gas station credit card skimming victimshave, in hindsight, remembered that the card reader had a weird feeling likethe slot had been tampered with.

UseYour Phone Smartly

Thievesare getting more sophisticated, and many no longer need to open the pump’scard-reader panel to install a skimmer. That’s why it’s important to payattention to the card reader itself to see if it looks different from those onother pumps. Scammers are now using devices that can be attached to the cardreader and emit a radio signal. To detect those, all you have to do is turn onyour smartphone’s Bluetooth function. If you see a long number trying toconnect to your phone’s Bluetooth as you stand in front of the gas pump, you’vefound a skimmer.

Therealso are apps that help you detect skimmers. One of the better apps, Skim Plusfor iOS and Bluetooth Skimmer Detection for Android phones. With these apps,you can detect a skimmer from more than 300 feet away. They use your Bluetoothto scan for the skimmer hardware. Not only do the apps detect the skimmer, butalso mark it on Google Maps. Once you install the app, you can see all theskimmers detected by other people using Skim Plus all around the world. Imaginehow much help that can be if you’re on a long road trip.

MonitorYour Account

Evenif you do your best to avoid suspicious terminals, you may still fall victim toa skimmer. The most important step you can take to enhance your card’s safetyis the one you should be doing no matter where you’re making purchases –monitor your account activity. Be on the lookout for any transaction that youdidn’t make. Monitor your spending and keep an eye on your bank accountstatements. As soon as you notice something unknown, you can report and getyour card blocked immediately. Also, set up fraud alerts on your credit cards.Nearly every issuer offers these, and many will email and text you when yourcard is used at a gas station. Check your credit card and debit cardtransactions frequently to make sure no fraudulent activity has occurred.

Someother tips

Apartfrom these, take some other steps to ensure safety against fuel pump skimmers.Here’s what you must do:

  1. Do not use fuel pumps or ATMs hidden around the corner of the building. Avoid sketchy ATMs in low-traffic areas.
  2. Choose pumps closest to a physical building.
  3. Visit a fuel pump that has been there for a while and experiences a lot of crowds regularly.
  4. Always cover the keyboard when you type your PIN.
  5. Consider paying or withdrawing cash with your digital wallet.
  6. Consider paying inside the fuel pump by cash to avoid any issues at all.

Lastly, go with your instincts when visiting a fuel station. If it doesn’t look right, use another pump or even try another gas station. Your instincts will often save you from drowning in the sea of scams and losses, so don’t overlook them. And follow these tips to keep your money save.


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