Florida Agriculture Commissioner vows to crack down on gas pump skimmers with new legislation

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In an effort to combat gas pump skimmers, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has vowed to crack down on the thieves that have catapulted Florida to the top of the fraud charts in America.

At a press conference held outside of a RaceTrac gas station, the agriculture commissioner highlighted that Florida has the highest rate of fraud per capita of any state in the country, with gas pump skimmers leading the pack.

“Skimmers are doubling every single year; 251 skimmers were found this year alone,” Fried said.

The practice of ‘skimming’ is a very popular method of scamming and theft that targets credit and debit card users at the pumps by inserting a card reader into an individual pump computer that reads and stores sensitive card information. Once the skimmer receives the information from multiple cards, they use that to make online purchases and steal personal information from vulnerable customers—a felony when found guilty.

Fried also went on to say that the financial impact as a result of this method of fraud is especially devastating.

“For every skimmer that is found, that’s a $1 million hit on our consumers, our hardworking individuals who come to the gas station to fill up their tanks, get around South Florida, get around our state, and unfortunately criminals are taking advantage of them,” she said.

Because of the increase in skimming and gas pump theft in the state, Fried is fully committed to supporting a new senate bill that will require gas stations to implement additional security measures and methods of securing retail petroleum fueling devices and require station owners to report skimmers within three days of discovery. 

The bill is registered under SB 430 and is expected to pass by year’s end. A House bill to complement the current Senate version is expected to be ready sooner than later.

How to Avoid getting Skimmed

At the press conference, Commissioner Fried gave some tips to avoid getting skimmed at the pumps.

While these are not full-proof methods to avoid getting sensitive card information stolen, they will serve as additional tips and methods of detecting potential fraud at the pump before it happens.

  • “One, make sure you’re taking a look at the gas pump and make sure that there’s nothing weird looking at it, which means that there’s not been any tampering, the tape isn’t falling apart.”
  • “Two, make sure that you’re often using your credit card. Your credit card has built-in fraud protection. So if you use your debit card, that’s money lost you cannot get back. And same thing, it’s always better to go inside and actually pay with cash.”
  • “Also look for pumps that are closer to the actual convenience store because that way there’s more lighting, there’s more traffic, there’s more people around.”
  • “And then obviously always check your credit card statement to make sure that there’s not been any fraud or have fraud alerts set up on your actual phone, you’ll know immediately if there’s been any issue.”

The support to back an anti-theft bill is a huge step forward against fraud in Florida and will surely provide momentum for similar bills in the future.

Fried left a simple message for skimmers at the end of her conference, saying, “Let me be very clear to you: I have a zero-tolerance for criminal activity. We will investigate, we will find you, and we will prosecute you.” 

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