Gas Pump Skimming: How to Spot and Avoid it.

This summer, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed a bill allowing residents to pump their own gas. Now, consumers in 49 of 50 states can get out of their cars, swipe their credit cards, and fill their cars up themselves. The change was heralded as a win for consumer choice.

However, there’s another group that’s excited to get access to Oregon’s gas pumps - the fraudsters. Up to this point, employees of the gas station were the only people that could access the terminals. This limited a fraudster’s ability to add a card skimmer and increased the likelihood of a skimmer being detected. Now that there is no longer a gas attendant to watch the pumps, the fraudsters have a greater opportunity to manipulate the card readers.

What is a Card Skimmer?

A card skimmer is a device fraudsters install on card readers to capture card data. When a cardholder swipes their card on this device, the card skimmer also reads the card information and that data is stored. The fraudster gathers the data and could turn around and resell it on the dark web or could make counterfeit cards themselves. In the meantime, the cardholder’s transaction continues as intended and provides no indication that they have just been compromised.

How To Spot A Credit Card Skimmer

Helping your customers identify these fraudulent machines is the first line of defense from this type of credit card fraud. The FTC has provided photos of card skimmers on their website as a point of reference. While detecting a card skimmer is not easy, here are a few things to look out for the next time you fill up.

Card Reader Alignment

Does the card reader align with the panel beneath it? Frequently, skimmers will be placed on top of the original card reader, making it stick out. When possible, compare your pump's card reader to the pump next to you.

Security Tape

Gas pumps often have security tape over the panel holding the card reader. Check to make sure the tape has not been tampered with.

Inspect The Card Reader

Try to examine the card reader's inside before inserting your card. If something has already been inserted into the slot, that could be a device attempting to  steal your information.

Avoiding Card Skimmers

Card skimmers work because the mag strip on your card does not change. This means that the mag strip can be copied to another card to be used as if it were your card. The way to mitigate this fraud is pretty simple - don’t swipe your card. Using the EMV chip or the tap function on a card avoids the card skimmers altogether. Alternatively, paying with your phone is another secure method. 

How Rippleshot Can Help

As with many situations, identifying your potentially compromised cards is key. Rippleshot can identify common points of purchase, including gas stations, to allow Financial Institutions to take action on those cards sooner. Rippleshot also provides intelligence on high risk fraud merchants based on data from their consortium of over 5,000 FIs. That could allow an FI to block individual gas stations where counterfeit cards are regularly used.


Despite all the advancements in card security, card skimmers remain a threat. Gas pumps continue to be a compelling target as they provide an opportunity to remain at the terminal for a few minutes and are typically monitored less often than other self-serve checkout locations. The good news is that educating consumers about card skimmers and encouraging safer payment options can be effective. 

About Rippleshot and Rules Assist

Since 2013, Rippleshot has been leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation to protect your customers from card fraud.

Rules Assist is the perfect blend of these tools. Together, they help your institution avoid falling behind the competition by providing the automation, machine learning, and data you need to implement effective rule writing strategies.

To learn more about how we can reduce cost, increase efficiency, and keep your fraud strategies up to date, please click the button below.

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