BUSHNELL, Fla. – Most people who pay with plastic have fallen victim to credit card skimmers at some point in time.
“We are finding a good deal of skimmers at gas stations,” Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services press secretary Adam Keller said. He added that the hundreds of devices officials have found are likely only a fraction of the skimmers that are hidden across the community.
Usually consumers realize their information has been stolen once the fraudulent charges pop up on their banking statements.
Keller said criminals will re-encode gift cards with information stolen from credit card skimmers or bought on the Internet. The cards are used to buy massive amounts of fuel using a “bladder truck” -- meaning a vehicle modified to hold hundreds of gallons of fuel -- then sell the fuel on the black market.
He said this method allows the thieves to get cash the same day then use that money to fund further criminal enterprises.
Keller said anyone who suspects they’ve fallen victim to a credit card skimmer should contact their bank, local law enforcement and the Florida Department of Agriculture at 1-800-435-7352. Follow the tips below to keep stay safe while paying at the pump.
-Pay inside with cash whenever possible
-Use the gas pumps closest to the store, because criminals generally place skimmers on the farthest pump, since it's less likely they'll be discovered
-Make sure the gas cabinet is closed, and the security tape is intact. Check around to make sure none of the pieces wiggle or jiggle
-Shield the PIN as it is entered. Even if no one is around, criminals have been known to install hidden cameras near skimmers to record PIN entries
-When using a debit card, run it as credit so there is no PIN entry
-Monitor financial statements regularly. Report any suspected credit card theft to the authorities and the bank immediately
Have you fallen prey to gas station skimmers? Sound off with your experience in the comments below.