Beware of a Popular Credit Card Scam

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Gas Station Swindle

Gas Station Swindle

I’ve had the worst luck lately with my Visa card and much of it leads back to just one type of retailer; the gas station. When I pull into a gas station, I want pumping gas to be easy and pain-free, so I normally use the credit card swiper right on the gas pump. Well, not any more (or at least not in the same way.) Two incidences have made me rethink this payment option: 1.) My Visa debit card was compromised and somebody in Lahore, Pakistan tried charging my debit card three times, and 2.) My Visa credit card was compromised and someone in the UK tried charging a few items. Thankfully, my banks caught the fraudulent charges and canceled my cards. However, both of these problems (on two separate occasions) happened right after I had used these cards at a gas station.

However, I’m not the only one with such bad luck at gas station pumps. Just the other day, I over-heard a colleague freaking out about how her debit card had been used at three different gas stations after she had used the same debit card to pay for gas. They had wiped out her bank account with these charges. She was not at all happy about having to wait a few days for her funds to be reimbursed not to mention the hassle of having to cancel her debit card and set up a new one.

So my strategy for paying for gas is to only use prepaid gas gift cards. If I purchase them at my local grocery store, I earn double rewards points that I receive back each quarter in the form of a check and coupons that I can apply toward groceries. I now don’t have to worry about my credit or debit card information being hacked or stolen and reap rewards in the meantime.

Have you had difficulty at the pump lately?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Money Beagle

    Haven’t had any problems here. Did you ever figure out how they got your data?

  2. Jeffrey

    I haven’t had this problem myself, but I’ve definitely heard about it. I guess someone is just skimming your card somehow. Do you typically go to the same gas station(s)? Maybe it’s time to consider switching that up if that’s the case.

  3. Heather

    We had problems a while back, but we’ve stopped using plastic to pay for gas. There’s a station here that, until very recently, was cash-only, and it’s consistently 6-10 cents cheaper, so we switched to cash.

  4. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

    Yeesh. Scary stuff. I haven’t had this issue before but I know people who have. Makes you want to pay cash doesn’t it?!

  5. SillySimple

    Fraudulent debit card charges scare me. I can deal with filing a complaint with my credit card company about a charge, but the thought of bouncing a rent check or even worse over a fraudulent charge into my checking account scares me.

    • Little House

      @Silly Simple – This is why I recently switched from using a debit card to a credit card. I’ve just had too much bad luck with my bank account and debit card transactions. This way I can control the transactions a little more closely without the fear of my bank account being emptied.

  6. TekGems

    This happens quite a bit. My employer’s AmEx Gold was ripped off and $50k worth of charges were made before the card was cancelled. You should report the gas stations you think were involved to local authorities, the federal trade commission, and to your bank.

    If you paid at the pump, it could be a card reader attached on top of the actual reader… Or if you presented your card at the counter, the clerk took snapshots of the front or back, or more likely an unauthorized card reader. The clerks make deals with criminals to sell this data on the black market. The black market in this case are underground web sites that you have to be vouched for to get access. The “carders” from all over the world, will then use your data to buy stuff online, or duplicate the data into physical cards that they use to buy high end goods and then fence them.

    • Little House

      @Thomas – Thanks for sharing this information. I’m definitely thinking it’s gotta be black market deals since the charges were in two different countries. That’s awful that you can’t trust a retailer anymore. :(

  7. Thomas - Ways to Invest Money

    its crazy that you cant safely use your card these days. No matter how far advancements we make it seems like cash it the only safe way sometimes to pay for things. I have never had problemes but now im am worried since I have to go get gas after work. Don’t have cash so either way I have to use my debt card.

  8. Hannah - HowMuchIsIt

    I had this happen a few years back when I had went to California. It was a foreign gas station attendant that claimed that the system went “down” and he had to manually write down my card. Since it was the only way to pay, I went ahead and went with it. Low and behold, a few days later, I had fishy charges all over the place and THANKFULLY the card company covered it.

    • Little House

      @Hannah – I’ve heard this has happened to people before as well. In my case, it was at the pump on the swiper. So I’m not really sure if the attendant can see the transaction (I’m going to say they can) and then do what they want with the information, or if it’s a third party authorization issue. What ever the case, I’m not using my credit or debit card at gas stations anymore!

  9. TekGems

    @Thomas – Ways to Invest Money

    For debit card, I use PayPal. They send you an e-mail after every purchase, so it is very easy to see if there is any unauthorized activity. Credit card companies don’t care about fraud… Merchants are the ones that have to refund unauthorized charges on product and services.

    • Little House

      @Thomas – That’s a great alternative. We received a PayPal card a long time ago, but never really took advantage of using it. This could be a great option for gas stations. Thanks for sharing!

  10. MoneyCone

    It sucks to have this happen especially if it is a gas station you frequent, but the way you solved this problem by using prepaid cards is very clever!

  11. krantcents

    So far, I have not. I buy gas exclusively at Costco though.

    • Little House

      @Krantcents – I would think Costco would be pretty safe. We used to have a Costco card but we just don’t purchase enough (or at least we don’t think so) and the gas lines were always so long….

  12. Marianne

    Thankfully, we have not had an issue with this before. I remember going to a very small privately owned gas station though and the attendant (full serve too!) took my credit card inside to be swiped and I was incredibly uncomfortable with this. I have not gone back there since simply because he could have done anything with my card. This was just before the chip cards came out.

  13. Thomas - Ways to Invest Money

    I didn;t know about the Paypal debit card. I know that PayPal is all for the consumer and this is something I really should look to get. Thanks for the info. How long have you been using it?

  14. Oren

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I haven’t had these problems. Always having a prepaid card seems like a little bit of a hassle but it may be worth it.

  15. rene@personalloans

    I never even considered that people would put card readers on the gas station swipers.
    It definitely makes me feel uncomfortable thinking about it. Prepaid sounds good. I wish the world was an honest place whereby people returned wallets still filled with money and everyone was actually out to help their neighbours.
    Seriously, where do these dodgy people come from. Grrrrrrr

  16. Beth

    I haven’t had any problems , although I’m always wary of handing over my debit card to be swiped. Never let your card out of your sight and cover your pin when you put it in. If you can get a prepaid gas gift card and earn reward points then that definately seems a better strategy anyway, I’ll have to see if I can leverage my gas costs and make a little reward too.

  17. Sunny

    Prepaid gift cards are a great idea. I used a credit card, that I never use, at a local gas station and was promptly informed by the bank that it had been compromised. It’s sad how creative these crooks can be.


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