TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is providing Floridians with tips to avoid travel scams and gas skimmers over the holidays.
“While many Floridians prepare to travel for the holidays, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and your family from gas skimmers and other travel scams,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “There are simple steps, like paying inside instead of at the pump and calling to confirm travel reservations directly, that can greatly reduce your likelihood of falling victim to one of these scams.”
According to Commissioner Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, here are five tips for consumers to avoid fraud by gas pump skimmers:
Pay inside instead of at the pump: It takes just seconds for criminals to place a skimmer in a gas pump — but it’s far less likely that a skimmer has been placed on the payment terminal in front of the clerk inside the gas station or convenience store. Take the few extra minutes to pay inside with cash or a credit card to protect yourself from fraud.
Take a close look at the pump: Avoid using pumps that are open or unlocked, have had the tamper-evident security tape cut or removed, or otherwise appear unusual. If anything seems cracked, loose, or tampered with, use a different pump. Some newer pumps may also have encrypted credit card readers — look for an illuminated green lock symbol near the credit card reader.
Pay with a credit card: If a credit card number is skimmed, you’re protected by the card issuer’s zero-liability policy — but a stolen debit card number could be far more damaging. If you must use a debit card, choose to use it as credit, instead of selecting debit and entering your PIN. Use a credit card chip reader if it is available.
Choose gas pumps closest to the physical building: Don’t use gas pumps out of the attendant’s line of sight, such as those around a corner or behind a building. Thieves placing skimmers are less likely to put them in pumps where the store attendant may catch them in the act.
Check your card statements and sign up for fraud alerts: Nearly every credit card issuer offers fraud alerts, and many will email or text you when your card is used at a gas station. Check your credit card and debit card transactions regularly to make sure no fraudulent activity has occurred. Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company.
When in doubt, consumers should contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — all consumer complaints will be investigated.
To file a consumer complaint, visit FloridaConsumerHelp.com or call 1-800-HELP-FLA or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (for Spanish speakers).