The Apopka Police Department (APD), with the assistance of The Florida Agriculture Department conducted "pump checks" at 37 local gas stations in search of skimmers - a device that can steal debit card information. Detective Dan Colley of the APD requested the pump check because of the increased frequency of credit card fraud associated with two skimmers found at Apopka gas stations this year.
The pro-active inspection today turned up no skimmers, according to Detective Andrew Parkinson of the APD Public Information Office.
A three-month state inspection last summer of 7,571 Florida gas pumps by state consumer watchdogs found 103 skimmers — 15 in Central Florida. None were found in Apopka during that inspection period.
Skimmers, which steal credit- and debit-card information, are small devices that are secretly installed in gas pumps. One skimmer can gather hundreds of card numbers, which can be used to make withdrawals at ATM’s by making a counterfeit card from the information gathered. The devices are attached inside the pump, and cannot be seen from the outside. Torn security tape is one sign that a pump may have been tampered with.
A skimmer is easy to install according to Scott Williams of The Florida Department of Agriculture, who performed the inspections today in Apopka.
"If a person knows their way around a gas pump, they can install it (the skimmer) in 15-30 seconds," he said. "Usually they have a car blocking the view of the attendant, or they have a second person inside the store to distract them."
Consumer Reports suggests these tips for minimizing risks posed by debit and credit card skimmers:
To totally avoid becoming a skimming victim at the pump, use cash when you buy gas.
Use a credit card rather than a debit card at the gas pump.
If you must use a debit card, never type in your PIN. Instead, select the option on the screen that allows you to have your debit card purchase processed as a credit card transaction.
Monitor your bank and credit card accounts regularly to spot unauthorized charges or cash withdrawals and report them immediately.
To read the complete Consumer Reports article, go here.
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