VISA Warns Credit Card Data Could be at Risk at the Gas Pump

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As we draw nearer to the culmination of the holiday season, millions of Americans will be hitting the roads to shop, visit friends, and travel home. With that, there will be plenty of gas station visits along the way. But a new report from Visa warns that holiday travelers who pay with their credit card to fill up may be at risk of having their data remotely stolen. 

Visa is reporting that hackers are exploiting a weakness in the point-of-sale payment networks that gas stations use to process transactions at the pump. Hackers have been able to infiltrate the networks of gas stations, installing their own malicious card logging software. 

When customers swipe their card, this software is able to intercept the cards information as it is being sent to the gas stations network, giving them your private card data without you ever knowing. All of your credit card data is neatly contained on the back in the magstripe, but since this information is not encrypted, hackers can easily swipe it once it enters the pumps’ network. 

The last thing anyone wants during the holidays is hearing their card has been compromised, so there are few things you can do to protect yourself. The first line of defense is foolproof, but can also be quite inconvenient if you’re in a hurry: go inside and pay the cashier directly. If the pump has a chip reader in addition to a magstripe swipe, opt to pay using the former. Data sent via a chip-and-pin method is generally encrypted, meaning hackers will not be able to intercept any of your data. 

This has become such a problem that Visa is mandating that all gas stations will need to deploy chip-and-pin readers by 2020. By then, any merchant that does not deploy the technology will be liable for any fraud that occurs. Until then, customers are still at risk of having their information stolen. 

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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