Common Petrol Station Scams and How to Avoid Them

Scammers are becoming more sophisticated as they take on new techniques and adapt to changes in society. Scams at petrol stations are rising significantly, from new technology like skimming devices at ATMs to improved strategies to commit drive-offs.

To help keep your petrol station reputable and scam free, it’s important to know about these scams and how they work. In partnership with ACCC’s Scams Awareness Week, we’re addressing common service station scams and steps that owners can take to avoid them.

Skimming Devices

Scammers attaching skimming devices to pump payment card readers is an issue that’s becoming increasingly prevalent at petrol stations. These devices are overlaid on the card slot of the machine, well-hidden and unlikely to be noticed. They’re designed with hidden cameras to immediately capture your card number and personal information.

To protect your service station from card skimmers, it’s recommended to check regularly to make sure the card readers have not been tampered with. If you find a credit card skimmer at your petrol station, report it to the police so they can investigate the matter further.

Pinhole Cameras

Often used in conjunction with skimming devices, pinhole cameras are tiny and hard to spot. They’re usually placed on the petrol pump above the keypad area, at an angle intended to take footage of the customer’s card pin number. Between the pin number and the information collected by the skimming devices, this allows scammers to withdraw funds directly from the customer’s debit card account or make fraudulent credit card purchases.

Check your station’s petrol pumps often to make sure no pinhole cameras have been placed. Look for anything on the face of the petrol pump payment area that appears different from the others, especially above the keypad.

Service Station Drive-Offs

Service station drive-offs are another major form of fraud. At service stations, the overall rate of detection for stealing petrol is relatively low. In addition, those stealing petrol often use a false or stolen number plate, making them harder to track down.

Making sure that employees regularly supervise the petrol station forecourt in an attentive manner helps to discourage service station drive-offs. If you witness a drive-off, be sure to take note of any potentially useful information, such as the color, model, and make of the car as well as the license plate number. Where possible we recommend our members form a personal and close working relationship with local police as this helps drive offs be made a priority.

Business Scams

Listed are some of the main types of scams we have seen occur within the ServoPro membership:

False billing: A false billing scam is an attempt to collect money with no return, often by tricking businesses into paying for something they didn’t order in the first place. Keep records of your purchases and payments to watch for false billing scams.

Phishing/spam scams: These scams come over emails, text messages or social media, and are aimed at getting business owners to provide personal information about their business. They’re often targeted at stealing your business’ banking details. To avoid phishing and scam spams, be cautious when emails or social media messages are asking for your information, especially if they seem unusual or unreliable.

Questionable franchises: Questionable franchise scams promise businesses a risk-free investment sure to lead to high returns, only to disappear with the business’ money. Before making investments, take caution and make sure that the company is legitimate.

What should you do if you’ve been scammed?

If you become aware that you’ve been scammed, it’s important to report the scam immediately. By reporting the scam to Scamwatch, you provide information to help track down scammers and reduce scams moving forward. In addition, you can visit Scamwatch’s help page to find resources to limit damages and prevent further loss.

By learning about potential scams, we’re able to take steps to avoid them. Talking about scams and reporting them when they happen helps to raise awareness. It’s important to speak up to prevent them from happening in the future.

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