NewsPinellas County


What you need to know about gas station skimmers

865 credit card skimmers found in FL in 2019
Posted at 3:38 PM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-11 15:03:56-05

SEMINOLE, Fla. -- Check your bank accounts! Deputies in Pinellas County found a second Bluetooth skimmer in a single week.

The latest credit card skimmer was found on a 7-Eleven gas pump in Seminole on Starkey Road. Another was found at the 7-Eleven on North Belcher Road near Gulf to Bay in Clearwater.

In just the first six months of 2019, the Florida Department of Agriculture inspectors and law enforcement have found 865 credit card skimming devices on gas pumps. About 100 have been found in the Tampa Bay area. That puts Florida on track for a record year of finding the devices.


What's being done to protect your information?

Currently, gas stations have until Oct. 1, 2020 to add horizontal card readers, which keep your information secure and raised keypads, which encrypt your pin number as you type it in.

The newer models have card chip technology, just like you've seen in stores. That's important, experts say, because it generates new, one-time-only transaction numbers for every purchase and automatically shuts down pumps that have been compromised.

The software is new, so don’t be alarmed if your neighborhood gas station doesn’t have the horizontal card reader yet. However, gas stations are up against a ticking clock. Across the nation, gas stations will be required to install them by 2020 if they don’t want to be held liable for fraudulent activity.

ABC Action News found a mixture of gas stations throughout the bay area. Some have already upgraded to the new technology and others have not.

You can identify the newer card readers because they often have small lights and require you to insert your credit cards horizontally instead of vertically.

Law enforcement leaders are urging you to pay inside the station when possible, use a credit card which is safer than a debit card and sign up for fraud alerts from your bank. You should also try to use the pumps closest to the station with ample lighting.

"With each skimmer, there is the potential for a million dollars in fraud against consumers. We take this crime very seriously," Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried explained.

Florida is also forming a statewide task force and tracking down and breaking up skimmer crime rings.

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