TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida bill signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis Wednesday adds new protections for drivers at the pump by requiring additional security measures at gas stations. It also requires that card skimmers be reported quickly when found.
Back in February, three men from Tampa were arrested after a skimming investigation in Marion County. Last October in Pinellas County alone, state inspectors found and took out two dozen skimmers from gas stations. These are just two recent examples highlighting how prevalent illegal card skimming is becoming.
Initially, these devices were attached to card readers on the outside of the gas pump, but now scammers are installing them inside the pump, then using Bluetooth and other wireless technology to steal your information. Under this new legislation, gas stations now must put in place a secondary security measure in addition to pressure-sensitive security tape at the pump.
What's more, gas stations must also report credit card-related security breaches to state authorities within 90 days of the incident. Florida's agriculture commissioner says bad guys have the potential to steal roughly $1 million in credit card charges per skimmer.
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Here are some protection tips for drivers filling up their tanks:
- First up – and you've probably heard this one before – inspect the pump. Look for anything that appears unsealed and avoid pumps that are unlocked, open, or missing the tamper-evident security tape.
- Also, if you can, try to use your credit card instead of a debit card. These tend to offer more consumer protections. Another way to protect your information is to pay inside, as the likelihood of skimmers being installed at the register is significantly less than at the pump.
- Another way to protect your information is to choose gas pumps closest to the physical building – ones that are within the store clerk's line of sight. The likelier scammers are to get caught, the lower the chances they'll act.
- And finally, sign up for fraud alerts with your card issuer. That way you'll get an email or a text when your card is used at a gas station. The state says it inspects more than 8,700 gas stations every year.
Inspectors have taken out more than 5,000 thousand skimmers since 2015, including hundreds so far in 2021.
The requirement that gas stations have two safety measures in place at the pump goes into effect on January 1, 2022.