ORLANDO, Fla. – Countless people have fallen prey to credit card skimmers. While some may feel like they're helpless against this electronic fraud, there are some things consumers can do to avoid having their cards compromised.
Employees at the Florida Department of Agriculture monitor this type of crime as reports have tripled in recent years.
While skimmers used to mostly be placed on the outside of gas pumps, officials say criminals have gotten more clever by placing them inside the machine where they aren't as easy to detect.
Still, there are ways to keep your sensitive information safe.
Consumers should follow the tips below, provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture, to protect their plastic.
- 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
Anyone Floridian who expects a gas pump has been tampered with can click here to file a report online or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).