So, how did the thieves obtain the gas pump panel key in the first place? The majority of pumps on the market use a low-cost lock. These locks have been in use for so long that no key control is available. This is rapidly changing. Pump manufacturers are equipping their pumps with high-security locks. This will improve key control and make it more difficult for thieves to open card reader panels. The thieves' keys will no longer work on these high-security locks.
Rather than waiting for new pumps, many gas stations and convenience store chains are being proactive by changing the locks on their existing pumps.
So, how can the consumer tell if the pump is protected by the new high-security locks? The average consumer is unaware. The gas station can help with this by posting signs stating what they are doing to prevent skimming. Until then, consumers should be cautious about where they buy gas. Use well-lit pumps that are close to the attendant's line of sight. If you don't feel safe, you can go inside and pay. Examine the pumps themselves; do any panels appear to be loose? Some stations apply security seals to the control panel. Are they present and undamaged?
You should also think about using a credit card instead of a debit card. A thief can empty your bank account if you use a debit card. Credit cards provide additional protection, the most important of which is that they are not linked directly to your back accounts. I've written about using debit cards before, and this is yet another reason why I'm not a big fan of them.
It appears that gas pump security will rapidly improve in the coming years. Locking Systems International, for example, assists both manufacturers and gas stations in securing their pumps as soon as possible."""