The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection say they have an open investigation right now into skimmer scams in the Tampa Bay area; a crime that's become more prevalent in our neighborhoods.
Just last night, skimmers were found at a Shell station in St. Pete--a company that crooks appear to be targeting this year.
It takes seconds for someone to install a skimmer. Then with a swipe of a credit card, your information is stolen.
"I don't have a bank account [or] credit card. I use cash," that's one person's solution to fraud and identity theft.
But for other people who pump and use these machines to pay, consumer protection experts warn: 'be careful.' "As we all know sometimes criminals are one step ahead and we are doing our very best," said a spokesperson for Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
RELATED STORY: Shell warns of credit card skimmers in Sarasota
If you search the news online and type in skimmer gas station in the Tampa Bay area you will notice, Shell turns up in the majority of the results from the start of the year.
"Are they doing anything to stop it?" one customer asked. That's what 10 News wanted to know; so we called Shell's headquarters. No one would talk on the phone but the company did send a statement saying the company is proactive: "They were first to install tamper evident labels that warn: 'if the seal is broken – don't use the pump'."
Customers we spoke with say the current measures that are in place aren't enough. Some shell customers say an obvious solution is more surveillance; which means cameras and staff.
RELATED STORY: Credit card skimmer alert for gas stations in St. Pete
When asked what a customer would like corporate to do to better protect their customers, their response was to "tighten up security" and others say the responsibility is on the driver too.
"Consumers also need to protect themselves, if you think a pump has been tampered with, go inside and report it," said consumer protection.
Corporate also said they are looking into an alarm system that would detect fraud and and kill power to the pump.
Tips on how to protect yourself:
-Pump gas from the inside lane pumps and those closest to the door of the establishment.
-Check to see if the gas station pump has safety seal tape on the door. Many stations are placing this tape on the tank to ensure the tank is not tampered with.
-Do not use a tank if the cabinet appears to be tampered with or if it is not locked.
-If you choose to use a debit card at a gas station, run the card as credit so that your PIN is not required.
-Report any suspected tampering to local law enforcement and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA or www.800helpfla.com
-If you suspect your credit card information has been compromised, contact your credit card company immediately.
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