TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Several skimmers were found at Clearwater/St. Pete Beach area gas stations during a pre-Spring Break sweep by the state Department of Agriculture.
Inspectors checked several hundred gas stations last week, according to a release from the department.
The sweep uncovered skimmers at the following locations:
- Panama City Beach/ Panhandle –77 facilities, 0 skimmers found
- Orlando area – 128 facilities, 0 skimmers found
- Clearwater / St. Pete Beach – 66 facilities, 4 skimmers found
o One Stop, Giant BP #109, 6151 4th St N, St. Petersburg
o One Food of Pinellas Inc. #23, 901 4th St N, St. Petersburg
o Quick Mart of Largo, 1990 West BAY Dr., Largo (2 skimmers)
- Ft. Myers Beach – 36 facilities, 0 skimmers found
- Daytona Beach/ Cocoa Beach/ Flagler Beach/ New Smyrna Beach – 75 facilities, 1 skimmer found
o Sunoco Food Mart, 5625 N Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach
- West Palm Beach – 51 facilities, 2 skimmers found
o Mobil/7-Eleven Inc., 3035 N Military Trail, West Palm Beach
o Texaco/Sunshine #37, 2274 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
- Ft. Lauderdale – 25 facilities, 1 skimmer found
o Valero, 1 N Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach
- Miami – 21 facilities, 0 skimmers found
Since early 2015, the department has found and removed more than 430 skimmers across the state.
Here are some ways you can prevent becoming a skimmer victim:
--Pay in cash inside the store to ensure the credit card information stays safe.
--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.
--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 are not 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 a debit card. 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.
“From Okaloosa County to Miami-Dade County, these skimmers are being placed on gas pumps and stealing from unsuspecting residents and visitors,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “We will continue to crackdown on these devices - and the criminals responsible for them.”