TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida consumers filling up at the gas pump may have had their credit card information stolen.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Thursday that a sweep of roughly 6,100 gas stations in the last few weeks led to the discovery of “skimmers” in 81 locations. The devices enable someone to illegally obtain credit card and debit card information.
The devices were found inside gas station pumps stretching from Miami-Dade County all the way to Florida’s Panhandle. The largest number of “skimmers” were found in the three South Florida counties of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.
But Putnam, noting that authorities found two devices in the north Florida town of Live Oak, said people should be careful regardless of where they live in the state.
“You should not feel safe just because you are not in a major metropolitan area or in a major tourist destination,” said Putnam in an interview.
Putnam said that the information about the “skimmers” was being given to law-enforcement authorities to investigate. He said that his office would continue to sweep through gas stations searching for the devices.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is responsible for inspecting gas station pumps to make sure they are dispensing the right grade and right amount. Putnam said he ordered the sweep after getting reports from inspectors about finding the skimming devices.
The department is urging consumers to buy gas with cash, or use a credit card instead of debit card. They also urge people to use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the pumps that are farther away from the store.