Sarasota police officers are finding about one credit card skimmer per month in gas pumps at convenience stores and service stations, officials said.
They are being placed there by criminals seeking to capture credit card and other personal information of unassuming motorists.
"It doesn't take long for folks to put these devices on," Sarasota police Sgt. Johnathan Todd said. "they can get inside the machines rather quickly."
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, 166 credit card skimming devices were discovered illegally attached to gas pumps and at ATMs in the state last year.
Sarasota police officers hit the streets on Friday morning to do a spot check on gas pumps. They opened the pump covers to check for skimmers, small devices typically hidden in the machines. With Action News along for the ride, the officers did not find any skimmers during their inspections.
Several gas station managers said they frequently check the pumps for skimmers. Mobil manager Cinthia Gonzalez said it's standard practice for her employees.
"Everyday in the morning, we check each pump," said Gonzalez.
It's common practice, because the goal is to protect herself and the customers, Gonzalez added.
"I wouldn't like it to happen to myself or anybody else, so to me it's very good that the police are working a lot on this, and if I can help then I will be glad to," Gonzalez said.
Here are a three tips to protect your credit cards from illegal scans:
- Make sure the credit card reader is secure. Avoid the reader is the device appears to be loosely attached.
- Inspect the protection seal placed on the cover of the gas pump. Avoid it, it it appears to have been tampered with.
- It's safer to use gas pumps located near the gas station's door or in view of the clerk.
- Or, use your credit card at a credit device inside the store.