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15 percent of Americans have been skimmed at gas pump: Survey

There are ways to protect yourself from skimming at the pump.

Suffolk County Police investigators probe a skimming device

Suffolk County Police investigators probe a skimming device that was put on a gas pump at the Gulf gas station in Ronkonkoma on May 16, 2017. Photo Credit: James Carbone

You’re not paranoid, there is someone watching you — especially if you’re at a gas station.

A new survey from CompareCards.com found that 15 percent of Americans who filled up with gas in the last 30 days had been a victim of skimming at the pump.

How can you protect yourself?

Check your credit card account regularly

This is not a waste of time. “Often, if your card has been skimmed, you will notice small amounts of money being charged to your account. Report suspicious activity immediately,” says Holly Zink, a financial tech and security expert for Digital Addicts in Port Jefferson Station.

Inspect insertion point

Take 15 seconds to inspect the credit card “dip” insertion point. “Thieves are getting better and better at crafting their tools of the trade. Look at where you insert your credit/debit card. If it looks out of place, go inside to tell the attendant. If you already have inserted your card and then notice something suspicious, get back in your car and call your credit card company to monitor or replace your card,” says Christopher Tuck, a certified financial planner with SJK Wealth Management in Philadelphia.

Be wary, too, if your card fits too loosely or is hard to insert.

Keep your guard up

Look around for areas a camera might be hidden. Even if all seems clear, cover your hand when you enter the PIN.

Says Robert Siciliano, author of "99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen," “Try to get away from using a debit card. At least with a credit card, you can dispute fraudulent charges before you lose any money (up to 60 days), but with a debit card, you have only a few days to do this.”

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