Beware Gas Pump Rip-offs Over Labor Day Weekend
Sure, when you see a headline about gas pump rip-offs you immediately think it’s the oil companies. Turns out there are savvy thieves ripping off both consumers and gas stations. It all revolves around credit card theft. In some cases, the thieves rip off consumers by stealing their credit card info. In other instances, the scofflaws steal gas, reports the Wall Street Journal. RELATED: See the Gas Station Ferrari Created
Thieves are setting up skimming devices at gas stations and nabbing credit card info. In Florida during a May sweep, law enforcement found 100 gas pumps with the devices on them. The best way to avoid that is to pay inside. Sure, it’s a pain but it gives you an excuse to pick up a candy bar.
The article points out more than half of all gasoline in this country is purchased by credit card or debit card. That’s a pretty big deal when you consider almost 375 millions of gas is sold daily. Loss from fuel-related thefts was anywhere from $250 million to $500 million in 2013 out of $357.8 billion in fuel credit card purchases annually.
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The thieves aren’t just stealing your credit card info. They’re using stolen credit card numbers (gleaned from readily available lists online) to steal gas. They create fake cards and then pump hundreds of gallons of gas.
How? They have custom-made steel bladders that can store hundreds of gallons of gasoline at a time. Next to someone at the pumps who is taking an awfully long time? You may be seeing a gas thief in action.
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Those new chip-embedded credit cards won’t provide relief any time soon. Gas stations don’t have to start using them until October 2016 — a full year behind other merchants.
Visa rolled out a program in 2014 that fights back against credit card fraud at gas stations. The technology can detect if someone is buying too much gas in a short time period (i.e. buying 500 gallons of gas in a two-hour period). MasterCard rolled out its version in August.