Have you noticed that (nearly) all Michigan gas pumps lock your card when you run it to buy gas? Of course, there's the "tap" consoles now, that read a chip in your card without even having to touch the machines. This also works with some smartphones.

But it was a shock to me, because nearly every gas pump I was accustomed to before moving here were the ones where you slide the card in, using the magnetic strip to read your information. Well, it turns out, those are NOT ideal for keeping your information secure.

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It nearly happened to me once. I  went to slide my card into the pump to pay, but when I did, I noticed the "cover" of the machine moved. When I went to grab it, it popped off, and there inside was a magnetic strip reader, attached to a sensor and storage device.

Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission

It was shaped exactly like the pump's card reader, and sat RIGHT on top of it. If it hadn't moved, I would have been none-the-wiser as to HOW my account information had been stolen.

Not a lot of places, in general, use the magnetic strip to read cards anymore, but it is an option. However, Michigan Gas Pumps overwhelmingly have gotten rid of this option. Most have moved to "lock" chip readers, which will temporarily hold your card in position while it reads the chip, and then release it when the information has been obtained.

Using chip readers like this is virtually impossible to allow someone to sneak a "fake" card skimmer on top of the readers on gas pumps, which has happened so prevalently over the years, and hurt a lot of people.

But, not ALL gas stations, or even ATMS, have made that switch. So keep that in mind, when you DO approach a card reader that has one of those magnetic strip readers still, maybe give the unit a quick wiggle, or pull to make sure you're not getting scammed.

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