Paying at the pump is one of the riskiest ways to use your credit card. Gas pumps still use the less secure swipe method instead of the newer chips, and anyone has access to tamper with the outdoor card readers. Keep reading to learn more about how to protect yourself from skimmers and identity theft in general.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when thieves steal your personal information and use it for their own financial gain. This can include making a copy of your credit card, opening new credit accounts in your name, or selling your information on the dark web to other identity thieves.
How to Protect Against Gas Station Card Skimmers
A credit card skimmer is a small device that copies the information off of your credit card’s magnetic strip when you swipe it. It works just like the reader inside of the payment machine. When identity thieves attach the skimmer to the gas station pump reader, you may not even notice that you’re actually swiping your card through two readers instead of one. After you swipe your card through the skimmer, identity thieves can use the information to create a clone of your card either physically or for online use.
To avoid credit card skimmers, always tug on a credit card reader before you insert your card. The skimmer fits over the reader and will be loose to your touch. If you find a skimmer, report it to law enforcement immediately. However, be careful as identity thieves often remain in the area to receive information from the skimmer.
How to Protect Against General Identity Theft
The key to avoiding identity theft, in general, is to protect your personal information. This includes not just your credit cards but even basic information like your name, email address, and phone number. The game for identity thieves is collecting small pieces of information and putting them together to be able to open accounts in your name.
Don’t Give Out Your Information Online
Use separate email addresses for sensitive information and general online use. Don’t give out your phone number unless a website really needs to call you. Use different secret questions and answers or make up fake ones when non-secure websites ask you to create them.
Monitor Your Bank Accounts Regularly
Check your bank accounts for unusual transactions at least once a week. Even if you can wait longer and still have fraud protection, this gives you an early warning that your identity theft was stolen so you can stop it before it gets worse.
Sign Up for Credit Monitoring
Review your full credit report at least once per year, and use free credit monitoring services. You want to find out about any fraudulently opened accounts when they’re opened rather than when they get sent to collections with your name on them.
Buy Identity Theft Insurance
Unauthorized charges are usually covered by your bank’s fraud protection, but identity theft has many other costs. This can include legal fees, credit repair, and a temporary inability to get credit while your identity theft report is under investigation. ID theft insurance helps reimburse you for these related costs.
Learn More About Identity Theft Insurance
If you’re near Scottsdale, AZ, and want to learn more about identity theft insurance, talk to Vanyo Insurance today. We help protect local residents against identity theft and all types of modern threats.