COCOA BEACH, Florida — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced that inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have swept through Florida checking gas station pumps for “skimmers,” devices that people illegally place on pumps in order to capture consumers’ credit or debit card information.
Putnam said that his department inspected nearly 500 gas stations last week in popular spring break destinations which uncovered eight skimmers. If undetected, the number of consumers victimized by each skimmer averages around 100 per device, with an average of $1,000 stolen from each victim.
“From Okaloosa County to Miami-Dade County, these skimmers are being placed on gas pumps and stealing from unsuspecting residents and visitors,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “We will continue to crackdown on these devices — and the criminals responsible for them.”
Since early 2015, the department has found and removed more than 430 skimmers across the state. The areas inspected in this sweep, the number of facilities inspected and numbers of skimmers found are as follows:
Panama City Beach/Panhandle — 77 facilities, 0 skimmers found
Orlando area — 128 facilities, 0 skimmers found
Clearwater/St. Pete Beach — 66 facilities, 4 skimmers found
One Stop, Giant BP #109, 6151 4th St N, St. Petersburg
One Food of Pinellas Inc. #23, 901 4th St N, St. Petersburg
Quick Mart of Largo, 1990 West BAY Dr., Largo (2 skimmers)
Ft. Myers Beach — 36 facilities, 0 skimmers found
Daytona Beach/Cocoa Beach/Flagler Beach/New Smyrna Beach — 75 facilities, 1 skimmer found
Sunoco Food Mart, 5625 N Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach
West Palm Beach — 51 facilities, 2 skimmers found
Mobil/7-Eleven Inc., 3035 N Military Trail, West Palm Beach
Texaco/Sunshine #37, 2274 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
Ft. Lauderdale — 25 facilities, 1 skimmer found
Valero, 1 N Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach
Miami — 21 facilities, 0 skimmers found
In addition to regularly inspecting gas pumps, the department worked with the Florida Legislature last year to put in place additional safeguards against skimmers at the pump and increase the penalties against the criminals responsible.
There are steps consumer can take to protect themselves, such as:
Pay in cash inside the store to ensure the credit card information stays safe.
Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with. Many stations are now putting a piece of security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened by unauthorized individuals.
Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away from the store so they are 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 at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of a debit card. That way, the PIN number is safe.
Monitor bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges.
Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company.