A user on TikTok has sparked discussion after posing a simple security question: Why does a fuel pump let him bypass the PIN on his debit card?
In a clip with over 127,000 views, TikTok user @pocketrobot3 shows a gas pump in which he’s inserted his debit card. At the point where the payment is supposed to be authorized, he is given two options: Enter his PIN, or simply bypass it.
“What the f*ck does this mean?” he asks, pressing the button. The card is immediately accepted. “What the f*ck?”
What appears to be happening is that the debit card is being run as a credit card.
Per TwinStar Credit Union, “Running a debit card as ‘credit’ is not the same thing as using a credit card. Your debit card is attached to your checking account. A credit card is a line of credit, meaning that [your bank] is actually lending you the money for the purchase and billing you for it later.”
In short, rather than directly charging your account, a hold is placed for that amount of money from your debit account. After this clears, which generally takes only a day or two, the money is deducted from your debit account.
Naturally, this sparks security concerns, as the TikToker noted in comments.
“Yea but what if someone stole my card,” he wrote in response to a comment explaining the ‘run as credit’ option. “I really think this is a failure of security – no one wants to call the bank.”
In the comments section, many users decried the sorry state of American debit card security.
“Literally only in America. It uses magstripe, an ancient and unsecure tech,” wrote a user. “If you dispute the charge the merchant is liable instead of the bank.”
“American payment system are wild. Too everyone saying ‘it’s being charged as credit’ you still need a pin for credit transactions in other countries,” added another. This is true; many countries have chip-and-pin credit cards as a standard, meaning that one must input their PIN even during credit transactions.
“Petrol pumps are pretty much the only place I use my card now. Apple Pay everywhere else,” shared a third.
That said, there are some workaround solutions.
“You can ask your bank to disable the card for no-pin transactions,” advised a commenter. “Note that you won’t be able to use it in terminals without a pin pad.”
We’ve reached out to the TikToker via TikTok comment.