GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gainesville detectives checked dozens of gas station pumps Thursday for credit card skimmers in an operation designed to prevent identity theft.
Skimmers were found at three gas stations in Gainesville in less than three weeks, prompting the crackdown.
Those skimmers were at the BP station at 5310 NW 13th St., the Chevron station at 1510 South Main St., the Shell station at 3831 NW 13th St.
Another skimmer was found during Thursday's operation at the Texaco station at 1602 NE Waldo Road.
Inspectors checked hundreds of pumps at more than 30 stations.
Authorities said it might have been easier in the past to tell if a pump had a skimmer, but now consumers might never know they've been a target of identity theft when they swipe a credit card at a gas station.
“They can leave it alone, and if it's found, it can't be traced back to them through conventional means,” Gainesville Police Department Spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said.
Many of the newer skimmers are Bluetooth capable, taking credit card and PIN data and quickly transmitting it to another device.
Technology is making the task of setting the skimmers up easy, taking only minutes, and tracking the criminal down very difficult.
Tobias said protecting yourself is twofold:
First, check your bank account regularly and report any suspicious charges.
Second, it's a little less convenient, but for the most protection, pay inside the station using cash or a credit card, because sometimes by the time you notice the fraud, it can be tough to determine where it came from.
“A lot of people don't remember what pump they were at or when they were at the gas station, so it makes it very difficult for us to track that down,” Tobias said.