HIALEAH, Fla. – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried promised to find and prosecute those responsible for fraud in the state as she discussed new legislation aimed at cracking down on gas pump skimmers.
Fried said Florida has the highest rate of fraud per capita of any state in the U.S., with skimmers being a major part of the problem.
“Skimmers are doubling every single year, 251 skimmers were found this year alone,” Fried said, speaking outside a RaceTrac in Hialeah on Monday.
She said the financial impact of this type of fraud is devastating.
“For every skimmer that is found, that’s a $1 million hit on our consumers, our hardworking individuals who come to the gas station to fill up their tanks, get around South Florida, get around our state and unfortunately criminals are taking advantage of them,” Fried said.
That’s why she’s throwing her support behind Senate Bill 430, which would acquire additional security measures at gas stations to prevent skimmers from being installed and a stipulation that skimmers must be reported within three days of discovery.
She said the House version of the bill is not quite ready but she hopes it will be soon.
In the meantime, she offered these words of advice for Floridians trying to stay safe while filling up their tanks:
- “One, make sure you’re taking a look at the gas pump and make sure that there’s nothing weird looking at it, which means that there’s not been any tampering, the tape isn’t falling apart.”
- “Two, make sure that you’re often using your credit card. Your credit card has built in fraud protection. So if you use your debit card, that’s money lost you cannot get back. And same thing, it’s always better to go inside and actually pay with cash.”
- “Also look for pumps that are closer to the actual convenience store because that way there’s more lighting, there’s more traffic, there’s more people around.”
- “And then obviously always check your credit card statement to make sure that there’s not been any fraud or have fraud alerts set up on your actual phone, you’ll know immediately if there’s been any issue.”
The agriculture commissioner ended her remarks Monday afternoon with a message to criminals.
“Let me be very clear to you: I have a zero tolerance for criminal activity. We will investigate, we will find you and we will prosecute you,” Fried said.