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How to keep your credit card safe at the gas pump

Credit card fraud is one of the most common forms of identity theft in the United States. One way your credit card information can be stolen is at the gas pump.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — In 2017, California ranked third in the country with the highest amount of credit card fraud reports, according to the Federal Trade Commission [FTC].

Credit card skimming is one way credit card information could be copied at the pump. Skimmers work when a person enters the back panel of the card machine at the pump, replaces a ribbon and copies the customer's card information.

The FTC advises the following steps for customers to prevent fraud and ensuring consumers do not lose money.

Look

At some gas stations, there is a foil label that is placed over the gas pump panel. This security tape will read void if the panel has been tampered with. Another thing to look for is an add-on to the the card reader. 

Touch

Even if you don't visually see the skimmer, give the card reader a wiggle. If the tip is even slightly movable, the FTC suggests that this may be a sign a skimmer was added to the card reader.

Monitor

Although many credit and debit cards have some form of fraud monitoring for customers, the FTC recommends monitoring your cards regularly for fraud and acting quickly should fraudulent activity occur.

The FTC notes that in the case your credit card information is stolen, the consumer is not liable for any unauthorized use. If your card information was stolen, you must report it within 60 days for this rule to apply.

How to report fraudulent activity:

  1. Contact the issuer of your card, immediately.
  2. Send a letter addressed to the company that issues your card, by certified mail and ask for a return receipt. This is to follow-up and confirm that you reported the fraud.
  3. Keep a copy of the above letter, the return receipt and a record of the initial report.

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