As if long lines at gas stations last weekend weren’t enough, drivers still must beware of card skimmers that will steal your credit or debit card data with a swipe. Here are five things to know before you gas up:
1. Skimmers are all over: In the past few months, skimmers have been spotted on North MoPac Boulevard, on Anderson Mill Road, in East Austin, in South Austin, in North Austin, in Cedar Park, in Round Rock and in Bastrop County.
2. They “skim” your data: Skimmers can capture your ZIP code, personal identification numbers and account information from the magnetic strip on your card and transmit the info via Bluetooth to thieves who then make clones of your card. Police recommend regularly monitoring bank statements to make sure your data hasn’t been stolen.
3. Best defense is cash : To avoid skimmers altogether, pay inside with cash. But if you have to use a card, use credit cards because they often have better fraud protection. If you have to use a debit card, choose to run it as a credit card, so you don’t use a PIN.
4. Pump location matters: Choose a gas pump that’s closest to the station’s clerk. Skimmers are often installed at pumps farthest from the store.
5. Chips are coming: Retailers hope that upgrades to gas pumps, such as the use of chip readers already found at store checkout counters, will stymie thieves who use skimmers. Some banks are trying to eliminate cards at ATMs altogether and allow customers to withdraw cash using their cellphone.