Scammers target SWFL gas pumps

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 18:27:57-04

Crooks are targeting Southwest Floridians at the pump. Four In Your Corner has learned that four new skimming devices have been found in Southwest Florida just this week.

Experts caution against using debit cards at the pump, “Don’t use a debit card. You have to think about who’s money are they stealing? Who’s money are you putting in jeopardy,” said Carrie Kerskie, Director of the Identity Fraud Institute at Hodges University.  

North Port Police Reporting Monday that investigations in conjunction with the Florida Department of Agriculture, led to the discovery of two skimmers at area gas stations. Bother were located along Toledo Blade Boulevard. The first was at the Mobile Station, near Plantation Boulevard. The second was at the Circle K at Bobcat Trail.

So far this year, six skimming devices have been found in Lee County and three have been discovered by police in Charlotte County. Two of those three were also found on Monday. Police found them at the Circle K and Mobile gas stations on Kings Highway in Port Charlotte.

Here is a list of recommendations from the North Port Police Department to protect yourself from getting scammed at the pump.

-Pay in cash inside the store to ensure credit card information stays safe.

-Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with. Many stations are now putting a piece of security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened by unauthorized individuals.

-Try to use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away from the store so they aren't noticed as quickly.

-Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.

-If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of putting a PIN number in. That way, the PIN number is safe.

-Monitor bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges.

-Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company.

You are also urged to check your bank statement often and report suspicious activity to your credit card company and police. If you notice that a gas pump has been tampered with, you can also report that to police and the gas station manager.