Between the months of January and October 2018, 1000 credit card skimming devices were found as reported by the Florida Department of Agriculture. With the lowest gas prices seen in a very long time, along with the holiday travel season in full swing, authorities want consumers to be aware. AAA predicts, “an estimated 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more to partake in turkey, stuffing and all the rest — 2.8 million of them Floridians, with 2.5 million driving.”
In past years the number has trended upward, but 1000 is the highest by far, and the lowest for the state was back in 2015 when 169 skimmers were reportedly found. Years 2017 had 655 skimmers found and 2016 had 2019 skimmers reportedly found at gas pumps in the state of Florida.
Here’s how you can protect yourself while filling up at the pump:
Do not use your debit card in a card slot. Pay cash inside. Do not use your debit card inside either, because some cashiers have been known to compromise the readers inside the gas station’s store as well. Though, there are some exceptions.
While tempting to be one and done, the credit swiping device at the pump is easy to compromise for the right criminal. If you have a device like apple or google pay, you may be able to swipe at some pumps, as well as inside the gas station’s store. If your debit card or credit card is attached to your mobile device’s pay feature, then you should be safer.
Another reason debit cards are discouraged from use is that they are a direct line to your bank account. Using a credit card is an extra-added layer of protection. Plus, there are usually protective features for compromised accounts. It’s a lot easier to have a credit card stopped, number changed, and false charges reversed than it is to try to get your checking account’s money back.
The Department of Agriculture recommends that if you have to use your debit card, to use it as a credit and not use your pin. The Department also recommends to use pumps closest to the door, check for security tape over the pump lock or seams to indicate it was recently inspected, and to use chip readers when possible. Lastly, when traveling, check your account regularly, and for an extra added layer of protection you can set up a travel alert for your cards.