A popular method of hacking into smartphones and other Bluetooth devices is now being used to steal debit information at gas pumps, and the method has reportedly made its way to Central Texas.

Bluesnarfing allows thieves to use software that exploits a Bluetooth connection, allowing them to connect to your Bluetooth device (phone, tablet, etc.) and access certain information. Those on the prowl for debit card information are now placing devices inside gas pumps that create a Bluetooth connection between the pump and their own Bluetooth-enabled device, so when you swipe your card and enter your pin, they receive that information.

Because the device they use is inside the pump, it's not as obvious as malicious card skimmers inserted into the pump's built-in card reader, which can usually be spotted and pulled out fairly easily.

Some gas stations are placing sticker seals over cracks in access points to the inside of the pump so that consumers can see if they've been broken and know there could be a problem. Personally, I wonder how long it will be before thieves get their hands on the same stickers and replace the ones they break.

In order to protect yourself, you can use the credit option at the pump rather than debit, though you'll still be open to data theft. If you use this method, you should set up alerts from your credit card company or bank that will notify you of suspicious activity.

Another way to protect your information is to pay inside, either with cash or using your card at the counter with more secure card readers.


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