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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


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I had read a while back that if you use the credit card feature instead of the pin number, thieves could not capture this information. Am I wrong about this?


Thanks for submitting a comment and a good question.

Yes, if you use your debit card as a credit card (e.g., Signature Debit), then you don't have to enter your PIN but it still withdraws money directly from your checking account.

Not all debit cards have this capability. So while yours might, other people's cards may not. And, at a gas pump that has been compromised with a skimming device, this payment method still exposes your debit card number. Why risk that?

I prefer to protect my checking account number and information like the "gold" it is. Only a very select few get access. When you use your debit card everywhere, you are betting that retail has taken all precautions to keep your payment information secure. Not all retailers are so diligent with data security. So, not all retailers have earned my trust... especially gas stations that leave their gas pumps unattended, unsecured, and unprotected for long periods (e.g., when the store is closed).

Your power as a consumer is to shop elsewhere when you suspect that a retailers has not taken adequate data security precautions, or shop at that retailer with a different payment method (e.g., cash). As retailers learn this, they will improve their security or suffer the consequences.



A reader asked me via e-mail: "How do these skimming devices affect your credit card? Luckily my credit card has fraud protection that actually has worked."

Fraud protection is great for credit cards, but I still wouldn't use a credit card at a gas pump that has been compromised. Why? The credit card replacment hassle.

If you use your credit card at a gas pump that has been compromised, the thieves now know your credit card information, can clone it, and then make purchases with the cloned card as if they'd stolen the credit card from your wallet/pursue. Than, you have to go through the hassle of notifying your bank and getting a replacement credit card; plus changing all of your online payment settings to use the replacement credit card account.

Who wants to go through all of that?



Thanks so much for the most informative answer George. I guess the way to go for me will be cash when I can.

Shelly Gainer

Wow.. sounds like an inside job to me! I'd start by investigating the company that maintains those gas pumps. Thieves suck!


No matters if you drive your company's car, a trucker or just working in a gas station - be alerted for scams like those, it can harms a lot of good people...

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