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Gephardt: Many Gas Stations Still Don’t Have More Secure Chip-&-Pin Card Terminals

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Merchants have been required to install chip-and-pin credit card terminals nearly everywhere to help keep identity thieves from getting ahold of our debit and credit card info.

But there are retailers in a very significant industry still asking customers to swipe their card’s magnetic strip — gas stations.

Recent arrests in Utah highlight the older technology’s vulnerability. This week, federal prosecutors filed charges against six suspects for installing skimming devices on gas pumps in Utah.

They’re accused of stealing names, card numbers and zip codes from magnetic strips in the cards of unknowing customers pumping gas, and then using that data to clone cards. Prosecutors said the group made off with $200,000.

Card skimmers recently made off with $200,000 in Utah. (KSL-TV)

But wait a minute – remember several years ago after a spate of major data breaches, banks were required to send us new debit and credit cards with chip-and-pin or EMV technology built-in to prevent skimming and other types of fraud?

Businesses were required to make the transition to EMV chip terminals five years ago. Well, most of them.

“Most businesses had to do this back in 2015,” said Ted Rossman, industry analyst for CreditCards.com. “Gas stations got an extension because they claimed it was just so expensive for them.”

Those stations received a five-year extension, which would have ended this past October. But then again, this is 2020.

“And then because of the pandemic, they got another extension. So now it is April of 2021,” said Rossman.

The KSL Investigators hit several fuel stops around the Salt Lake Valley and found many have already adopted the chip-and-pin tech at the pumps. But not all.

Rossman has advice for people who wind up pumping gas at a station without an EMV chip-and-pin terminal and are concerned about their card’s security.

“If you use the gas station’s branded app – that can be a really secure way to pay,” said Rossman. “And if they give you rewards on top of it, that’s even better.”

ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell stations, among others, support app payments.

Many other stations also offer contactless payment or tap-to-pay terminals that process transactions without having to insert or swipe your card.

Many stations also offer contactless payment or tap-to-pay terminals. (KSL-TV)

But if neither are for you, security experts said your best bet may be to pay inside or use cash.

Rossman also said credit cards are safer than debit cards at the pump. Debit cards are linked directly to your checking account, so any sort of fraud will be real money missing as opposed to tied-up credit while your bank resolves your fraud claim.

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