BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) - Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest rising crimes in the U.S. Experts say Florida sees more than it's far share of fraud. But one type of ID theft is increasing at a dramatic rate.
It's getting to the point you're not even safe filling up you gas tank. Card skimming devices are starting to show-up on Florida's gas pumps pretty frequently. The reason? Experts say it's a matter of numbers. Aaron Keller of the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services says, "we do have more than 100 million tourists per year, and a large population, so we do see this as kind of a hotbed in Florida."
Skimmers are electronic devices that can steal the information off of your debit or credit card when you slide it into the pump's card reader. Bad guys can place them over the real card slot, or put them inside of the gas pump's cabinet.
Since the beginning of this year, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officials say they've investigated 315 skimmer cases. That already exceeds the 219 skimmers discovered during all of 2016. Most of the activity is happening in central and south Florida. But, it's moving north. Corporal Craig Romans with the Bay County Sheriff's Office tells News 13, "we're starting to see this more and more, and I do eventually see us getting you know skimmers in the area."
A skimmer can collect data from hundreds of customers, each one losing an average of one thousand dollars. The best defense is to pay attention when paying for gas. Aaron Keller says, "a small inconvenience on the front end, like paying cash and going into the store, can protect you." And when paying bills, Corporal Romans says, "to just stay on top of it and monitor your bills and make sure that there's no fraudulent transactions."
Another good tip is...use gas pumps in plain view of the cashier. It's riskier for thieves to plant skimmers on those pumps.
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