The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warns Floridians about credit card fraud being used by card skimmers at gas pumps. Card skimmers are small electronic devices that collect information from the magnetic strip on your credit or debit card when it is swiped during a transaction. Initially, these devices were attached to card readers on the outside of the gas pump, but now scammers are installing them inside the pump and often employing Bluetooth technology or integrated cell phone components to transmit card and PIN information. These devices are largely undetectable unless the pump is opened for maintenance or inspection.
Protect Yourself from Card Skimmers
While it may not be possible to completely avoid skimmers, here are a few tips that will reduce your risk at the pump:
- Pay in cash or use your credit card inside the store.
- Check for security tape on pump locks or seams indicating the pump has been inspected.
- Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser is closed and does not appear to be tampered with.
- Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store.
- Use a credit card chip reader if it is available.
- If using a credit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN number.
- Monitor bank and credit card accounts regularly, to spot any unauthorized charges.
- Consumers who suspect that their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) regularly inspects gas pumps and analyzes samples of petroleum products to ensure consumers are being offered quality products at a fair measure.
Consumers who suspect that a gas pump has been tampered with should contact the gas station manager and file a complaint with FDACS. You can file a complaint online or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).