Florida Commissioner of Agriculture addresses credit card skimming concerns

Adam Putnam talks issue of stolen personal information at the gas pump

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - A recent News 6 investigation shows how a record number of credit card skimmers were found at gas pumps across the state last year. 

Now, the official who oversees inspections of those pumps is chiming in. 

"We continue to change the law to increase the penalties for engaging in this type of crime," Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said. "This is still an issue."

Putnam continued his campaign for governor with a stop at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Orlando, where News 6 spoke with him about how the penalties weren't harsh enough for those caught using credit card skimmers. 

"It was more lucrative than dealing with drugs and a far less severe sentence if you were caught and arrested," he said. "Changing that was a fundamental shift toward changing behavior and protecting consumers. Technology does change quickly. The bad guys were using the fact that there were very low penalties for engaging in this type of behavior." 

The number of credit card skimmers found on pumps across Florida tripled from 2016 to 2017, to a whopping 613 skimmers found. 

Putnam detailed how he's working to tweak a recent law regarding credit card skimming. Right now, when inspectors find a skimmer, they have to shut down a pump and call police. 

Putnam would like a bill that would allow inspectors to seize the skimmers without interfering with any criminal investigations. 

"We're getting those skimmers out of circulation," he added. "It means there's less impact on the consumer, less impact on the gas station owner. It seems a little silly that we would have to shut down the pump and ask law enforcement to remove it when someone who is from the state of Florida and is a petroleum inspector could do that immediately and not have that jeopardize the ability to prosecute the criminals."

Putnam is seeking the republican nomination for governor. That primary takes place on Aug. 28. 

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