JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a statewide sweep over the last few weeks, officials removed hundreds of credit card skimming devices from gas pumps in Florida.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced they had found 259 skimmers in the state in the first five months of the year. News4Jax has learned 22 of those were at gas stations in Jacksonville.
“I didn’t think it was that many, especially being that it is an old scam,” driver Floyd LaFountain said.
State investigators estimate each skimmer steals information from about 100 people before being discovered, costing victims an average of $1,000 each.
“I never use my card at the pump just for that reason,” driver Elizabeth Amari said.
Four skimmers were found last month at the 76 station on Third Street South in Jacksonville Beach, just before new owners took over. The new manager said she reviews surveillance cameras every morning and keeps a watchful eye on the pumps during the day.
"If I see something suspicious I don't know, I come running out here," she told News4Jax.
A total of nine skimmers were found at six gas stations in May.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried worked with lawmakers this spring to try and address the growing issue. Two bills meant to crack down on skimmers didn’t pass, but Fried said she plans to see them filed next year.
In the meantime, Fried wants drivers to know what to look out for.
“When you’re at the pump, always check to see if it’s been tampered with in any way, and pull on the card reader,” she said. “If you feel uncomfortable, go inside and pay with a credit card or cash.”
For those who think they may have been the victim of a credit card skimmer are advised to act as soon as they get the alert that their information was skimmed.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody's office has laid out a step-by-step guide of what to do:
- Call the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus.
- Ask the credit bureaus to place a "fraud alert" on your credit report.
- Also, contact the fraud department of each of your creditors.
- Then, call your bank.
- If you believe your accounts have been compromised, cancel your checking and savings accounts and get new account numbers.
Skimmer victims should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Clearinghouse. Complaint information is added to a database where it can be accessed by local and state police. They are also advised to call the Fraud Hotline number at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226).
The Florida Attorney General's office provides the full Identity Theft Victim Kit online for people to download.