TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 26, 2016 – Thieves install skimmers on gas pumps, and an uneventful trip to fill the tank can easily turn into credit card theft. To the untrained eye, the skimmer looks like a regular slot for inserting a credit or debit card, and even trained eyes miss some skimmers.
Since 2015, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has found and removed more than 230 skimmers in Florida – devices that illegally captured consumers' credit or debit card information. The number of consumers victimized by each skimmer is estimated to be about 100 per device, with an average of $1,000 stolen from each victim. Each skimmer represents a $100,000 threat to the state of Florida and its consumers.
"Identity theft is the last thing Floridians and visitors want to deal with while traveling this Memorial Day weekend," said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. "An educated consumer is the best defense, and I encourage travelers to follow these simple tips."
Steps to avoid gas station skimmers
Pay cash inside the store
Make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and not tampered with. Many stations now put security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened
Use a gas pump close to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away – the ones not noticed as quickly
Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
If using a debit card, run it as a credit card instead of putting a PIN number in
Monitor bank accounts to spot any unauthorized charges
If you suspect a credit card has been compromised, report it immediately to authorities and the credit card company
Consumers who suspect that a gas pump has been tampered with should contact the gas station manager, local law enforcement or the department's consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800- FL-AYUDA (352-9832).
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