New Security Measure Targets Card Thieves at Gas Pumps

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Self-serve gas stations may no longer be the easy prey of crooks with stolen credit and debit cards.

New anti-theft software is helping gas stations crack down on credit card fraud at the pump.

Pay-at-the-pump terminals at self-serve gas stations are the perfect place for thieves to rack up charges with stolen credit or debit cards. With no one to personally witness the transaction, thieves have little chance of getting caught.

According to Today, convenience stores and gas stations lose an estimated $250 million each year to credit and debit card fraud. Unfortunately, that loss has to be absorbed somewhere, and that usually means higher prices for paying customers.

Now new technology, Visa Transaction Advisor, or VTA, has been designed to recognize lost, stolen or phony cards, so gas stations can more easily distinguish between the rightful card owners and a thief. Today reported:

“This technology uses predictive analytics to help determine whether this is a high-risk transaction. If it is, then we send a notification back to the pump and the customer is prompted to go inside and complete that transaction,” explained Mark Nelsen, Visa’s vice president of risk products and business intelligence.

Not surprisingly, if the card is stolen, the thief will most likely drive off.

The VTA software analyzes more than 500 pieces of data, including location, past transactions and potential data breaches, and in less than a second creates a risk score. The higher the score, the bigger the risk that the card is stolen.

More security measures are on the way to protect American consumers from credit and debit card fraud. Chip-and-PIN cards (or EMV cards) are aimed at reducing credit card fraud, but gas stations will take longer than most retailers to implement upgrades to accept them, Consumerist said. The VTA will help until the upgrades can be made.

“Merchants and financial firms have been given until 2015 to equip their systems to accept the new technology, but gas stations received an extension giving them until 2017 to replace the readers in their pumps,” Consumerist reported.

The new thieve-thwarting software for gas stations is already making an impact. Today said:

Before VTA’s national rollout, Visa did a two-month pilot test at 300 Chevron stations in Los Angeles. Chevron saw a 23 percent reduction in fraudulent chargebacks — that’s when a customer challenges an unauthorized charge on their account.

“VTA works behind the scenes without any costly infrastructure upgrades and will not change the experience at the pump for the average customer,” said Gabriel Andres Porras, Chevron’s merchant acquiring manager.

About 25,000 gas stations across the U.S. use VTA. Today said Shell is testing the anti-theft software at many of its stations.

What do you think of the VTA software? How do you keep your debit and credit card information safe? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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