Labor Day Travelers Encouraged to Watch for Skimmers at the Pump
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–While many Floridians will be hitting the roads this Labor Day weekend with gas prices dropping to the lowest levels since 2004, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam encourages Floridians to be wary of signs that gas pumps may have been tampered with and had skimmers placed within them. Skimmers are devices that illegally capture consumers' credit or debit card information. 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, identity theft wreaks havoc on people's lives.
“In order to better protect consumers, our inspectors routinely check for skimmers while inspecting a gas pump,” stated Commissioner Adam H. 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.”
Within the past month, the department has identified and removed nine skimmers placed at pumps in the following counties: Brevard (1), Broward (1), Lake (2), Miami-Dade (1), Palm Beach (2), Seminole (1), and Washington (1).
Consumers can take the following steps to avoid skimmers at gas stations:
Pay in cash inside the store to ensure 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 putting a PIN number in. 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.
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).
In addition to routinely checking pumps for skimmers, Commissioner Putnam has worked to protect consumers by partnering with the Florida Petroleum Council and the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association on an initiative intended to educate the industry about ways they can help protect consumers from skimmers. The Council and Association have distributed a one-page informational sheet to their members with helpful information, such as “what to know,” “how to help,” and “who to call,” in order to engage gas station employees in this consumer protection initiative. View the document [ 181.10 KB ].
The department regularly inspects gas stations and analyzes samples of petroleum products to ensure consumers are being offered quality products at a fair measure.