Chances are you, or someone you know have been the victim of credit card fraud.
It should come as no surprise that in Florida, there’s a been a huge increase in the number of credit card skimming devices found at stores and gas stations.
For the first six months of 2017, the state is reporting 315 skimmers have been found at Florida gas station pumps versus only 120 for the first six months of 2016.
Candidate for Florida governor and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam held a press event to talk about the growing problem of credit card theft. He says law enforcement officers have been monitoring the problem since it really started to increase rapidly in 2015.
“Since that time, we have seen a steady trend upward, an increase in the number of skimmers being found around the state on these gas pumps,” Putnam said.
Putnam has been focused on the issue, recruiting help from the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association along with law enforcement agencies across the state.
Last year law makers passed a bill to make penalties for credit card fraud stronger. It also requires security devices on gas pumps, which is where the skimmers are most likely to be used.
It’s also now illegal to have possession of devices used to skim.
“As the third-largest state with 10,000 convenience stores and more than 100 million tourists visiting each year, Florida presents significantly more opportunities for skimming devices to be used,” said Florida Retail Federation President Scott Shalley.
So, how do you protect yourself from these criminals?
“There are some very simple things that the traveling public can do during this summer traveling season to protect themselves,” says Putnam.
- Use cash to pay for gas;
- Use credit cards which have more consumer protections than a debit card;
- Use pumps closer to the stores;
- Avoid pumps with cabinets that appear to be open, security tape is broken or appears altered.
“This is not a crime limited to Florida, but unfortunately it is a crime that we are seeing growth in and an increasing number of these devices are being found,” Putnam said.