Experts Warn of Rise in Pump Switching Scams

(HorizonPost.com) – Last month, GOBankingRates reported on a new scam at the gas pumps called “pump switching” and outlined how to avoid becoming a victim.

Pump switching targets people who pay for gas using a credit card. The scammer either offers to pump the gas for a customer or to replace the nozzle once the customer is done pumping the gas for himself. But instead of replacing the nozzle and ending the transaction, the scammer leaves the transaction open and pumps gas into another car which gets charged to the victim’s credit card.

A customer targeted by pump-switching scammers may only put $20 worth of gas into his tank but may find a credit card charge for five times that amount when the bill arrives.

The scam has been widespread in the Philadelphia area, prompting police there to issue a public service alert warning about it.

In some instances when a customer refuses the suspect’s offer, the suspect may get aggressive with the customer.

To avoid the scam, GoBankingRates recommends that customers remain alert when pumping gas and avoid interacting with anyone who is not an employee of the gas station but attempts to get involved in the transaction. If someone does offer to help, politely decline the offer.

When using a credit card to pump gas, never leave until after you’ve completed the transaction and the receipt is issued. Finally, before leaving the pump, take the receipt with you.

If anyone does offer to help replace the nozzle, particularly if the suspect becomes aggressive or confrontational, instead of getting into an argument, immediately notify the gas station staff or contact the police.

The police also recommend that anyone who encounters a suspect should remain at the gas station in a safe place until officers arrive.

According to police, anyone involved in “pump-switching” could face felony charges of receiving stolen property, theft, device fraud, and conspiracy.

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