A virulent new breed of skimmers at gas station pumps are using cutting-edge technology to steal your money.
That’s prompted money expert Clark Howard to renew his warning about selecting your method of payment when you fill up very carefully.
Report: Internal Bluetooth-powered skimmers are epidemic
Skimmer scams at gas pumps have always been a perennial problem. These devices — designed to capture the info from inserted cards so that bogus plastic can be created in your name and maxed out — are now going very high-tech, according to one new report.
The Orlando Sentinel says the new breed of skimmers are inside the pumps themselves, rather than being an external appendage that a criminal puts on a pump hoping no one notices.
One of the key features of the newest kinds of skimmers is that they use Bluetooth technology and cell signals to transmit your card data via text messages.
That means the criminals operating these things can be miles away; across the country even!
“They never even have to come back to the gas station [to get the data],” one academic who studies skimmers told the newspaper.
Florida in particular is having trouble with the new high-tech approach to crime. Nearly 700 skimmers have been found on gas pumps in the Sunshine State during just the first 10 months of 2018 — more than in all of 2017.
Some chain gas stations have come up with new ways to try to thwart the criminals. But it’s unclear how well those solutions work against the new technologies being used by crooks.
And unfortunately, this problem isn’t local to the Sunshine State. It could happen anywhere.
Clark Howard: Beware of using a debit card to pay at the pump
The new development has caused Clark to reiterate his warning about paying with debit at the gas pump.
“The devices are so small and so sophisticated and they get a signal of your card while you’re still at the pump,” the money expert says.
“It goes to the heart of why you should never use pay at the pump with a debit card. You have no risk if it’s a credit card, but you have great risk with a debit card.”
“If you punch in your [PIN at the pump], banks say that you’re considered guilty until innocent because they say you’ve been careless with your [PIN].”
So if you must pay with a debit card for gasoline, Clark says there’s only one way to do it: Pay inside the gas station with the attendant at the cash register!