New state rules go into effect on October 1st that make the penalties harsher for people skimming credit cards at gas station pumps. The crackdown comes as the state of Florida struggles to catch the people responsible, and has trouble keeping them in jail when they do catch these criminals.
“It can be just a slap on the wrist sometimes,” explains a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to ABC Action News. The Department is responsible for monitoring about 8,000 gas stations across the state, checking to see if the fuel being sold is meeting state standards. The inspectors will be adding the responsibility of checking to make sure the credit card machines have not been tampered with.
The state has found about 300 credit card skimming machines in gas pumps since the beginning of 2015, and the department says each skimmer is usually able to steal information from about 100 cards. From each card, about $1,000 is stolen, which totals about $30 million in stolen dollars from credit card skimmers in the past couple years.
And that’s just the cases investigated by the state, let alone the local law enforcement departments that also investigate these kinds of cases.
The new law makes the crime of credit card skimming a second-degree felony, potentially punishable by a 15-year maximum prison sentence. That’s an upgrade from a third-degree felony with a max five-year sentence. It will also not take just give fake credit cards, instead of 10, for someone to be charged with a second-degree felony. And anyone found with 50 or more fake credit cards will face a first-degree felony charge, the law says.
Gas stations are also required to put a security seal over the credit card machine at the pump.
The state spokesperson describes this requirement as “the bare minimum” to keep customers safe.
If the seal looks tampered with, or is missing altogether, don't use that gas pump, says the state spokesperson. The seals used should also be pressure sensitive, so if they have been removed and then placed back on, they will say "VOID OPEN" on the seal.