NEW PORT RICHEY, FL — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office have recovered 12 credit card skimmers that were placed on gas station pumps by thieves intent on stealing residents’ credit card information.
On Wednesday, Dec. 12,. the sheriff’s economic crimes unit with help from the Department of Agriculture conducted a check of 151 gas stations throughout the county and came away with 12 skimming devices found at seven gas stations.
Skimmers were found at:
- On the Fly BP: 1068 U.S. Alternate 19, Holiday-one skimmer located
- Citgo 52: 7820 State Road 52, Hudson-three skimmers located
- Jasmine Food & Gas: 10461 U.S. 19, Port Richey-one skimmer located
- 7-Eleven #32738: 18934 U.S. 19, Hudson-one skimmer located
- BP: 6444 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey-four skimmers located
- 7-Eleven #17223: 6001 Trouble Creek Road, New Port Richey-one skimmer located
- Top King Food Mart/Chevron: 11744 Fort King Road, Dade City-one skimmer located.
Skimmers are illegal card readers attached to gas pump payment terminals. These card readers grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without. Criminals then sell the stolen data or use it to buy things online.
According to state Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, it’s a crime that’s on the rise because the skimmers are so difficult to detect, it takes only moments for a thief to place a skimmer on an automated gas pump and it’s lucrative — a single compromised pump can capture data from 30 to 100 cards per day.
Across the state, Department of Agriculture inspectors found just 169 skimmers throughout Florida in 2015. The number rose to 655 in 2017 and this year inspectors expect to break that record.
“An educated consumer is the best defense, and I encourage travelers to follow these simple tips to avoid skimmers this holiday.”
- 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.
- Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away from the store.
- 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.
Putnam worked with the Florida Legislature to change Florida law to better protect consumers from identity theft at gas station pumps by:
- Requiring self-service fuel dispensers to use certain security measures to prevent theft of consumer financial information;
- Increasing enforcement authority against those who possess or traffic fraudulent credit cards;
- Reclassifying the crime of unlawful conveyance of fuel, which increases the maximum sentence; and
- Increasing the offense level of the crime, which affects sentencing guidelines.
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).
Images via Pasco Sheriff
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