With summer travel about to pick up, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office is urging drivers to pay attention to what happens after they leave the gas station.
There's been a rise in the use of credit card skimmers at gas pumps, and the skimmers have gotten more high-tech.
Thieves used to just cover the card reader at the pump with a skimmer, and if you shook it, the skimmer would fall off. Now, according to Sgt. Art Forgey with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, criminals are putting Bluetooth devices inside the pumps to read the card information.
“They are actually opening up the compartment on the gas pump where the card reader is, cutting the lines, and putting in a Bluetooth device so that they don't even have to go back and get it,” Forgey said.
Forgey said the Sheriff's Office hasn't seen skimmers yet this year, but police are keeping a close eye on local gas stations, trying to be ahead of the crooks.
“Once you open that keypad up, it's obvious that it has been cut and there is a foreign device in there,” Forgey said.
But until that happens, drivers have no way of knowing if a skimmer is present. Because of that, Forgey said drivers need to keep a constant eye on their bank statements, because typically once the card information is compromised, it isn't used right away or in the area where it was stolen. Forgey said that's the part that makes it most difficult to make arrests in these crimes.
“It's important to reconcile receipts of where you have used your card against your statement and quickly report fraudulent transactions,” Forgey said. “We have jurisdiction just here in Alachua County, so it can be tough working with other agencies to combat this.”
Experts advise one easy way drivers can protect themselves is to pay inside when they fill up. It might be inconvenient but could save a lot more inconvenience in the future.