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Visa is now helping U.S. fuel retailers prevent credit and debit card fraud at the pump with intelligent analytics that identify higher-risk transactions that may be fraudulent.

While global fraud rates across the Visa payment system remain near historic lows – less than 6 cents for every $100 transacted – fuel pumps can be targets for criminals because they are often self-service terminals.

Florida in particular, has become a haven for thieves looking to access consumer debit  and credit card numbers from transactions at the pump. According to a press release, the new solution, Visa Transaction Advisor (VTA), enables merchants to use real-time authorization risk scores to identify transactions that could involve lost, stolen or counterfeit cards. A pilot test of the new service showed a 23% reduction in the rate of fraudulent transactions.

The service works by analyzing multiple data sets such as past transactions, whether the account has been involved in a data compromise and nearly 500 other pieces of data to create a risk score each time a card is swiped at the pump. This allows merchants to identify those transactions with a higher risk of fraud and perform further cardholder authentication before gas is pumped.

“The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) welcomes all innovations that can mitigate the risk of accepting cards at the fuel island,” said Conexxus Executive Director Gray Taylor. He pointed out that while theft of card data at the island garners more headlines, there has been little public attention to the fraudulent use of cards at the fuel pump. 

“Like drive-offs, a fraudulent chargeback can wipe out the gross profit on a thousand gallons of fuel sales, forcing the industry to raise prices to consumers, just like any other cost of doing business.  While NACS believes that PIN authentication is a far better solution, any innovation that lowers fraud cost and risk is a good thing,” Taylor said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a pilot test of predictive analytics software from Visa helped reduce fraud at Chevron gas pumps by 23% over a two month period.