The last time I stopped to put fuel in my vehicle I got out of the car and did my usual routine. I pulled my credit card out of my wallet and then reached for the credit card slot on the gas pump and gave it a pull. Since it didn't wiggle and looked as if it was the original credit card reader I slid my card in and continued with my transaction.

If you don't follow similar steps when you use your credit card to fuel up at Louisiana gas stations you're leaving your identity and your money exposed to the bad guys. Just this past week a sweep of gas stations in the Greater New Orleans area uncovered at least one credit card skimmer that had been inserted into a self-service gas pump.

These skimmers read the data on your card and collect it for the ne'er do wells to collect later. The practice is a lot more common than you might suspect. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure that slot your about to slide your card into is legit.

It's always a good idea to just look at the card reader near the keypad. If it looks to be in good shape and looks as if it belongs with the machine that's a good thing. I always grab the card reader and attempt to wiggle it. If it wiggles, I move on to the next station. If it's solid, it's probably okay. Another tip is to purchase gas at reputable stations. If the business looks sketchy then maybe the pumps are sketchy too.

Oh, one more thing, gas pumps aren't the only places where card readers and skimmers have been found. You should follow the same common-sense guidelines we've outlined here when using an ATM. Bad guys have been known to use skimmers at those places too.