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Subject: Gas station rip-off! rss

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Josh
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No, this isn't a rant about gasoline prices. This is to relate something that happened to me, so that others might be warned, and maybe someone has insight into the specifics of what happened.


Last night I filled up the car at a local ghetto gas station. I paid "at the pump" with my debit card. The total came to about 35 bucks and change. After I was done, the screen asked if I wanted a receipt, and I pressed "yes." There was much whirring and clacking, but no paper receipt emerged. This had happened to me lots of times, so I just drove away.

Today I checked my online bank account because I was expecting my paycheck to be deposited. I noticed that there was a charge titled "service charge" from last night (the only charge for yesterday). The charge was for 75 bucks and change. So clearly someone had managed to piggyback 40 bucks onto my gas. I'd suspect that the account was closed at the pump after my transaction, leading me to believe that the clerk saw that I drove away and helped himself (or herself, I never even looked inside).

I guess what I learned is that I should have gone inside to ask for a receipt, as I suspect that would have closed the transaction.

I'd be interested if others can tell me a bit more about this small potatoes scam.
 
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Robert Wesley
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Aberdeen
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Why don't you take the matter up with the "Manager" of this place, and even the "Better Business Bureau"? surprise
 
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Walt
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How about calling the police? Can your car hold $75 of gas? Few people fill up at over half empty, so the amount of $75 could be all the proof needed that you were defrauded.

Also contact your bank. You may be able to get a refund, but also it may be a very good idea to get a new debit card. I just read a news article about thieves who put recorders into card readers.

FWIW, I use a credit card whenever possible since they are slightly better protected. Some banks will automatically pay your credit card every month so you never have finance charges. If your bank says no, think about another bank.
 
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Quinn Munnerlyn
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Often they will put in a preliminary Inflated charge just to make sure you have enough in the account to cover it, when the charge actually goes through it will be the correct amount. My bank describes it like this.

***If you use a credit or debit card to pay a merchant or you initiate a deposit, withdrawal or transfer to your account, you are authorizing the transaction amount. If it is a merchant transaction, in most cases, the merchant knows the exact amount of the transaction and asks you to authorize that amount. For example, if you buy $82.75 worth of groceries, the market would ask you to authorize an $82.75 charge or debit to your account. That amount would then appear in the pending transactions line of your Account Summary until it was posted.

Sometimes, though, the merchant doesn't know the transaction amount until after it's authorized. A good example of this is at the gas pump. Before you fill up your tank, you're asked to swipe your debit or credit card to authorize your purchase up to a specified amount. Say, for example, the authorization request is for $50. This amount also shows in your Account Summary as a pending transaction. Your gasoline purchase ends up being $22.50. That's the actual charge that will be paid to the merchant. In rare instances, the actual transaction is posted to the account before we receive an updated list of pending transactions. In that case, it may look like you're being charged for the authorized amount of $50 and the actual purchase amount of $22.50. In reality, the pending charge will usually be removed with the next update. In no case will you be charged both amounts.***

Maybe this is what you're experiencing.
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Jorge Montero
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St Louis
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My bank will just put a hold on the funds that were authorized as opposed to just take them off your account, so if it ever reflected as a charge, it was not just an auth. Just calling your bank can clear it all up though.

In any case, in modern US banks, a credit card will be a better option than using a debit card, if just for things like this.
 
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Josh
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Lothartvni wrote:
Often they will put in a preliminary Inflated charge just to make sure you have enough in the account to cover it, when the charge actually goes through it will be the correct amount.


Just looked at my account again, and it turns out Quinn is correct. I had no idea this sort of thing occurred. I'm glad I posted this, because I learned something. Ironically, this was a problem because I kept TOO close an eye on my money, and is yet another example of those distinctly modern problems that occur because we are all so wired and connected, allowing us to get upset before all the facts emerge.

Thanks to all who replied.
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Josh
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UPDATE: I have since learned that preauthorizations that exceed the amount of purchase are especially common at gas stations.
 
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Mitch T
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I thought you bought a $40 reciept
 
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