(NationalUSNews.com) — A new financial scam is rapidly spreading to gas stations across the East Coast and is becoming increasingly common in cities like Philadelphia. The scam is known as “pump switching” and preys on consumers using credit cards to buy gas for their vehicles. Experts are warning citizens about the new financial scam and advising consumers on how to stay safe from pump switching and prevent having their money stolen by strangers.
The Philadelphia Police Department issued a warning about pump switching, explaining how it works and how to avoid falling prey to the financial scam. Pump switching is when a scammer approaches someone after they use their credit card to buy gas. Scammers then offer the customer to pump their gas for them or return the gas nozzle to end the gas purchase. Scammers then wait for the victim to leave the gas station and begin using the gas pump for their own purposes while the victim’s credit card is still active.
Scammers often use the victim’s credit card to buy gas for their vehicle, using the customer’s money for free gas. Other scammers use the victim’s credit card for financial gain, offering future customers gas in return for cash. Using the scam victim’s card, scammers make money from other unsuspecting consumers. The scam works because citizens often fail to check their credit card balance immediately after using a card, allowing the scam to go unnoticed for hours or even days. According to some reports, scammers target customers who appear “good-natured” or physically weaker than them.
Media outlets are offering advice to consumers on how to protect themselves from pump switching. The most important advice is for consumers to remain aware while pumping gas, as scammers will approach someone who isn’t paying attention to the credit card transaction. Consumers should also collect their receipts immediately after buying gas, as this ensures the customer is aware of how much money they spent and concludes the transaction. Without a transaction remaining open, scammers are unable to steal a customer’s money.
Authorities also provided advice to consumers about preventing pump switching, claiming that the best thing a customer can do when encountering a pump switch scammer is to avoid confronting them. According to the police, consumers should report suspicious activity to gas station employees or the local authorities. After calling the cops, authorities recommend that the customer remain in the area until police arrive.
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