By now you’re probably starting to get used to using your chip-enabled card whenever you make a purchase in a physical store. But there’s only place you won’t be using it anytime soon…the gas station!
Visa stalls EMV at the pump
Visa announced Dec. 1 that it’s pushing back the date for EMV (chip card) activation at automated fuel dispensers (AFD) from Oct. 1, 2017 to Oct. 1, 2020.
The reasoning behind the move? The payment cartel is acknowledging that some industries are facing unexpected challenges with the move to chip cards.
The delay is also being attributed in part to the overall drop in fraud at the pump since Visa Transaction Advisor was introduced. This artificial intelligence software taps databases instantly when you insert a card to make a determination about whether or not they really believe it’s you at that gas pump.
“We knew that the AFD segment would need more time to upgrade to chip because of the complicated infrastructure and specialized technology required for fuel pumps. For instance, in some cases, older pumps may need to be replaced before adding chip readers, requiring specialized vendors and breaking into concrete,” Visa noted in a blog post.
“Furthermore…there are still issues with a sufficient supply of regulatory-compliant EMV hardware and software to enable most upgrades by 2017.”
The dangers of using a debit card at the pump
That said, fraud at the gas pump is not something to be taken lightly. It still is a threat to you, particularly if you use a debit card.
If you carry one and use it at a gas station, you are asking for trouble! It’s not a matter of if you’ll get into trouble, it’s only a matter of when.
If you do ‘pay at the pump’ and you use debit, the gas station will put a giant hold of $100 to $150 or more on your card. You may only pump $20 of gas! But many times that hold won’t be released for days, and your checking account reflects that $100 or more hold. If you bounce a check because of that hold, your bank won’t cut you any slack.
So if you need to use a debit card, go inside and present the card to the cashier. Yes, that defeats the whole purpose of the convenience pay at the pump. But that’s the only way to be sure you’ll only be debited the actual amount of gas you pump, rather than the $100 hold.
The other disadvantage for debit card users is the plague of fake PIN readers. Criminals will put a device called a skimmer that is barely recognizable over where you put in your card. They use that to capture the transaction data from your card’s magnetic strip. And then they have tiny digital camera to record your four-digit secret code as you enter it. Equipped with that info, the crooks can then duplicate your card and empty your checking account.
To protect yourself from skimmers, follow this advice:
- Inspect the plastic slot where you insert your card and shake it to make sure that it doesn’t come loose. A loose entry point indicates there may be a skimmer attached.
- Cover the key pad as you enter your PIN or zip code. Don’t give crooks a chance to record your digits with a hidden camera if there is one in use.
- Consider paying cash or credit instead.
- Check your bank statements daily. If your account is compromised, you may be able to catch it quickly and avoid more damage if you keep up with your accounts regularly.