State and local officials are preaching vigilance over rising instances of identity theft around the state due to credit card skimmers in gas pumps.
Sergeant Brian Sawyer with the Collier County Sheriff’s Department said that while his department had not yet noticed a significant increase of devices in the area, it is always worth taking a few simple steps to help reduce the chance of having your information stolen.
Inspection stickers are often prominently displayed near the pumps credit card reader. Do not use the pump if that stickers is broken and alert the gas station staff.
Use credit cards instead of debit cards if possible so that if information is stolen criminals will not have access to your bank account.
Use the pumps within eyesight of gas station staff or near security cameras. They are less likely to have been tampered with.
Consider filling up at a gas station outside of your zip code. Most pumps ask for your billing zip code when using a credit card and filling up at a station inside that zip code makes it easier for criminals to guess that information.
Elsewhere around the state, it’s been a different story.
According to state figures, 315 skimmers had been found in gas pumps as of June, more than double the 120 found in the first seven months of 2016 and far exceeding the 169 total devices discovered in 2015.
Earlier this month, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency inspects Florida’s pumps, said that there has been a continuous rise in the usage of the devices in the last few years.
“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.
Gas station chains like Wawa, who has been expanding aggressively in Southwest Florida since 2015, have had to step up security measures. Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce said that the company uses a combination of special locking mechanisms and inspections on the pumps to help combat the information theft.
“At Wawa, it’s always a top priority to ensure the safest possible experience for our customers during every transaction, whether inside our stores or at the pump,” said Bruce. “Specifically, at our fuel pumps, we’ve had unique locks on our dispensers for several years and perform regular inspections and checks to help prevent skimming of credit card data.”