Everyone knows what skimmers are on credit card terminals. New anti-theft chip cards were supposed to stop skimming fraud.  Unfortunately, the scammers have figured out a way around that too. Get ready for my sad story.

I feel violated. I've been traveling a lot lately. As a result, I've been buying a lot more gasoline. To avoid running short on my debit card, I've been using my credit card to buy gas to ensure I don't run short in my regular account.

I know better than to use the card reader at any gas pump. One night I was returning late and just wanted to get home. There was a long line at the convenience store, so I thought, what could it hurt?

Besides, my credit card has a chip. Surely, skimmers don't work on chip cards.

It only takes once. Three days later, while at work, I get an urgent text from my bank. A potentially fraudulent charge was detected. At first, I thought it was a phishing message. Unfortunately, this time someone really had managed to "shim" me.

Shimming is the act of using a shimmer device that intercepts the data transmitted between your card and the payment terminal. They are much smaller and harder to detect than traditional skimming devices. They fit inside the card reader slot. You would need specialized equipment to detect them.

That one time, when I didn't walk into the store and pre-pay, I became a "shimming" victim.

For a moment, I took some comfort in the possibility that the person who stole my card info might have been hungry and really needed the money. Boy, was I wrong? The first fraudulent charge was $100 to OnlyFans.

That's right; someone stole my credit card information using a highly illegal shimming device so they could look at someone's adult content.

Not only do we have to worry about crooks stealing our credit card information at local gas stations, but pervert crooks. What kind of person risks prison to install a shimming device on a gas pump to use the money to pay for adult content?

I'm glad my bank alerted me to the activity.  I am not sure they would have believed me if I told them someone fraudulently stole my credit card info to buy porn. I can hear the accusatory tone when telling that story to my bank. Sure, Mr. Kelley, are you sure it wasn't you?

I wish the bank would have told me whose OnlyFans page the crooks subscribed to. Maybe besides bearing all on the net, they're also credit card scammers.

Long story short, now, I must wait 8-10 business days for a new card. That is incredibly inconvenient. The whole experience reinforced what I already knew.  Never, ever, no matter how in a hurry you are, use a pay-at-the-pump feature at a gas station in Texas.

Industry experts and security researchers often estimate only between 0.1% and 0.3% of gas pumps in the United States have a skimmer or shimmer installed. It has to be a much higher percentage than that.

Besides waiting in a long line at the convenience store whenever you want to buy gas and pre-paying inside the store, you can do a few things to prevent becoming a victim of shimming like I was.

1) Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN. This can prevent fraudsters from capturing your PIN using hidden cameras or other surveillance methods.

2) Monitor your accounts constantly. See if your financial institution can alert you when potentially fraudulent activity is detected on your accounts. Thanks to my bank's fraud email, I knew less than five minutes after the transaction was attempted.

3) Use mobile payment options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Wallet, which offer additional layers of security.

Personally, I think the gas station that allowed their pay-at-the-pump terminal to be hijacked bears some responsibility for the fraud. They should have to pay a penalty whenever they allow crooks to install skimmers or shimmers on their pumps. They should use detection devices to check all their pumps at least once daily.

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All of this makes me want to go old-fashioned. I'm actually considering using cash. It's been a long time. It's been so long. Is that what a 100-dollar bill looks like now?

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