The new gas station scam: How “pump switching” works and how to avoid it

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While it’s important to save money, it’s equally important to stay alert to various financial scams. There are a large number of incidents occurring, including new gas station scams, so you need to be careful.

This scam is known as “pump switching,” and here we’ll take a look at how it works and how to avoid it.

What is the new pump switch scam?

This scam is so prevalent that Philadelphia police issued a public service alert about it. This latest scam targets people who use credit cards to pay at the pump. Scammers approach unsuspecting victims at gas pumps and offer to pump more gas or replace the nozzle to complete the transaction. The scammer then fills the vehicle with gasoline and proceeds instead of putting the nozzle back into her pump to finalize the transaction.

In some cases, scammers will also offer to hang the nozzle and leave it running while they pump gas for the next customer. In this scenario, a still-active nozzle is used to inject gas into a new customer, and the scammer demands cash for the transaction.

Let’s say your car needs $50 worth of gas. The scammer offers to hang a nozzle for you, then adds another $50 worth of gas to her car or the next customer’s car, and gives you her $100 credit for her card transaction. may be left behind. You may not realize that you are a victim of this scam until you check your credit card balance and see that the transaction amount is double hers.

These scammers seek out friendly or infirm victims at gas stations and offer to fill them with gas or hang a nozzle. In some reports, scammers are aggressive in their interactions. Some suspects aggressively snatch nozzles from victims’ hands after their offers of assistance are refused.

According to one report, the victim of the scam had a stranger hang a gas nozzle on him. The victim thought nothing of the exchange until he noticed he had a $165 charge on his credit card. This was much higher than the amount of gasoline I inserted.

How to avoid this scam

There are various strategies to avoid scams online, but this particular strategy is unique. That’s because fraud happens in person and can catch you completely by surprise. Here’s how to protect yourself from this scam.

Be careful when injecting gas

It’s natural to lose focus. Or maybe you want to check your phone while pumping gas. This is a daily activity and it can be easy to get caught up in thinking about your workday and the errands you need to run. This scam is becoming more common, so be careful when filling up with gas. You should also avoid interacting with anyone who obviously doesn’t work at the gas station and tries to get involved in your process. If a stranger approaches you, politely decline.

Please be sure to receive a receipt

Disconnect the gas hose and press “end transaction” each time to get a receipt and make sure you are only charged for the gas you used to fill up. Even if you’re in a hurry, it’s important to complete the transaction so the scammer doesn’t charge you extra for gas. The time it takes to complete a transaction is a fraction of the hassle of contacting authorities or your credit card company.

Vigilance staff or police

If someone becomes aggressive or confrontational towards you at the gas pump, do not engage with them. The best strategy is to seek immediate help by notifying gas station staff or calling the police to avoid getting into a physical confrontation. Police also recommend that if you encounter this scam, find a safe place where you can remain at the scene until authorities arrive.


This new scam is becoming even more common, so it’s important to remain vigilant at gas stations. If someone offers to pump gas for you, politely decline. If they become argumentative or confrontational, seek help immediately. Always be aware of your surroundings and always get a receipt before driving.

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