Gas Station Management: Fighting Skimming

Gas Station Management: Fighting Skimming

Due to the switch to EVM cards (or “chip cards”), indoor credit card machines have become increasingly more secure. Unfortunately, the same is not true at the pump. ‘Skimming” has begun increasing in popularity over the last decade.


“Skimming” is the practice of installing a small machine (“skimmer”) to capture credit card numbers and information (PIN, Zip Code, etc). This unfortunate set of circumstances means that using a credit or debit card at the pump is among the highest-stakes risks taken by credit card users.


The problem with skimming and it’s increasing popularity is that it’s an incredibly easy crime to accomplish, and potentially lucrative if done correctly. Take this case of Konstantinov and Alisuretove. The couple would leave their skimmer device in the gas pump for a month at a time, capture all the data from every card that was run on the pump all day long, and then use that information to pull cash out of an ATM over and over until the ATM was empty!


The best defense against this practice often comes from your staff. Educating and training your employees to be on the lookout for this scam is the first line of defense. Educating customers can also be beneficial.

How to Prevent Skimming (as a Consumer)

  • The simplest and most effective way to not have to worry about someone stealing your credit card information is to simply not have one. At least, not when it comes to fuel purchases. Purchase your fuel with cash.
  • Always use the credit option over debit. While the bad guys could still potentially get into your account, to get cash out of an ATM they’ll need the PIN. If you consistently use the credit option over debit, you’ll ensure that they never have your PIN.

How to Prevent Skimming (as a Business)

  • Be on the lookout for suspicious activity such as a customer that appears to be hanging around the pump for too long.
  • Regularly inspect credit card readers at gas pumps, ATMs, or point of sale systems.
  • Train your employees as to what a skimming device looks like. A lot of cashiers open the door to a gas pump’s control panel to change out receipt paper; it only makes sense that they know how it’s supposed to look in there!
  • Start looking for discrepancies within reporting. Look for a higher than normal number of “bad card reads” or “dispenser offline” message. A spike in these reads should be a red flag that something isn’t right.



Utilize the Latest Technology

Skimming at the pump is a more prevalent issue than data theft inside your gas station or C-store. With modern POS systems and effective back office management software, there are extra layers of protection to prevent identity or financial theft.


An important part of gas station management is confronting the various problems of the industry head-on. Through proper employee education, a watchful eye, and effective technology; you can combat skimming and other forms of credit card fraud.


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