Officials warn of credit card skimming, other scams at the pump over holidays

Credit card skimmers at gas stations can’t always be spotted easily, as the devices are often placed inside the pump.

Gas pump

Officials are warning those traveling over the holidays to stay vigilant against credit card skimmers and other possible scams at the pump.

As Michiganders and visitors hit the road for their holiday gatherings and getaways this week, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding drivers and consumers to keep a lookout for potential credit card skimming and other scams at area gas stations.

A credit card skimmer is a device installed by scammers inside a card reader to collect credit card numbers, which can then be recovered to make fraudulent purchases.

Credit card skimmers at gas stations can’t always be spotted easily, as the devices are often placed inside the pump. MDARD Director Tim Boring says his department plays a critical role in protecting Michigan motorists from such devices, as well as from gas station operators delivering improper quality and quantities of fuel.

“Our inspectors look for skimmers during every routine pump inspection and check gas for quality and quantity,” he said. “We want Michiganders to know when they fill up, they’re getting every dollar worth of gas into their tank.”

Motorists can help increase their protection by making sure the price display on the pump is set to zero before the pump starts, as well as by verifying the sign on the roadway matches the price on the pump before fueling. Consumers should always request a receipt as a record of their purchase, according to MDARD.

Michigan boasts over a 92% compliance rate on fuel pumps, largely due to efforts by MDARD’s weights and measures staff, according to Craig VanBuren, MDARD’s lab bureau director.

The non-compliance issues can be attributed to various reasons, including display malfunction or even providing too much fuel,” VaBuren said. “Less than a quarter percent of devices our inspectors test fails to deliver too little fuel.”

In those cases, he said, MDARD works with station owners and operators to help them get back into compliance.

Michiganders or visitors who suspect credit card skimming or think they may have purchased substandard fuel or received a short/incorrect measure of fuel can call the Motor Fuels Hot Line at 800-632-3835, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at 877-765-8388, or file a gasoline price gouging complaint online.

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  • Jenny Sherman
    Jenny Sherman is 101.9 WDET's Digital Editor. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Michigan State University and has worked for more than a decade as a reporter and editor for various media outlets throughout metro Detroit.