TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sept. 3, 2015 – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam released a warning about “skimmers” attached to gas pumps in Florida.
“Our inspectors routinely check for skimmers while inspecting a gas pump,” says Putnam. “While the overall number of these devices is low, we encourage Floridians and visitors to take precautions at the pump to protect their financial information.”
Skimmers are devices that illegally capture consumers’ credit or debit card information, and they’re often attached to a gas pump and appear to part of the equipment. While the number of skimmers the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has found on gas pumps is relatively low compared to the total number of pumps in Florida, the danger loom large: Identity theft wreaks havoc on people’s lives, Putnam says.
Within the past month, the department identified and removed nine skimmers placed at pumps in Brevard (1 incident), Broward (1), Lake (2), Miami- Dade (1), Palm Beach (2), Seminole (1) and Washington (1) counties.
Steps to avoid gas station skimmers
- Pay with cash inside the store.
- Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with. Many stations now put a piece of security tape over the cabinet to ensure it hasn’t been opened. If so, make sure the tape has not been broken.
- Use a gas pump close to the front of the store. Thieves often place “skimmers” farther away to avoid quick discovery.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and money isn’t deducted immediately from an account.
- If using a debit card, run it as a credit card instead to avoid putting a PIN number in.
- Monitor bank accounts regularly to spot unauthorized charges.
Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their 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).
Putnam partnered with the Florida Petroleum Council and the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association on an initiative to educate the industry about ways to protect consumers from skimmers. The Council and Association have distributed a one-page informational sheet to members that’s posted online.
© 2015 Florida Realtors®
Source: Florida Realtors Feed