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Security & privacy

Don’t use this credit card to get gas, ever

We’ve warned you plenty of times about card skimmers and shimmers. They are used to steal your credit card information when you swipe them at places like gas stations and ATMs.

The good news with skimmers is if you know what you’re looking for, they can be spotted and avoided. Tap or click here to learn how these scams work. That’s why many of us have started jiggling the card reader before inserting our cards to pay for gas. If the card reader moves, even slightly, don’t swipe your card.

Unfortunately, criminals have figured out a way to bypass the ingenious “jiggle system” and can steal your card information anyway. But you’re not without options.

New way crooks are stealing your credit card information

Card skimmers have been a very successful tool for criminals over the years. They attach them to ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) systems at retail locations and at gas stations to steal your credit card data.

They work by stealing banking information from the magnetic strip on your credit or debit card. Thieves can use this data to clone your card and drain your bank account before you know what’s happening.

That’s why most banks have made the switch to “chip” cards. When you use your card at a retailer who has implemented chip reading technology, your information is encrypted, making it more difficult for scammers to successfully steal from you.

Related: How to protect yourself from credit card fraud

The problem is not all retailers have switched to chip reading POS systems. Especially gas stations. If you’ve purchased gas recently and paid at the pump, you most likely swiped your card. This leaves your card information at risk of being stolen at pumps with skimmers attached.

But things are even worse now. According to Visa, crooks have found a way to steal your credit card information without a skimmer being attached to the POS system.

The threat was discovered by the Visa Payment Fraud Disruption (PFD) team earlier this year. A Remote Access Trojan (RAT) was installed on a POS network used by gas stations across the U.S. through a phishing email. An employee clicked on a malicious link in the email and that led to the infection.

Related: 4 popular chain restaurants targeted in payment system hack

Now that the POS is infected, criminals are able to steal credit card information without a skimmer. With millions of people traveling over Christmas and New Year’s Eve over the next couple weeks, the potential for tons of new victims is real.

How to avoid falling victim to this credit card fraud scam

As we said earlier, many gas stations have yet to implement chip reading technology at the pump, which makes it difficult to avoid falling victim to this scam; however, there are a couple of things you can do.

  • Don’t pay at the pump – It’s annoying to go into the station instead of paying outside, but if it means safeguarding your banking information, it’s well worth the walk.
  • Make sure the POS has chip reading technology – Even if you go into the building to buy gas, there’s still a chance it doesn’t use chip reading tech. If that’s the case, use cash. If you don’t have any cash on hand, go to the next station.

Scammers are always finding new ways to stay ahead of the game, which is why it’s important to stay on top of all the new risks out there.

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