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New Florida law requires gas stations to crack down on ‘skimmers’

Stations will have to take additional steps to ensure the integrity of gas pumps

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Photo (c) aabejon - Getty Images
Florida has passed a law requiring gas stations to take added precautions against gas pump skimmers that steal consumers’ payment card information. Gov.  Ron DeSantis signed the legislation, which requires additional protection during fuel purchases while also mandating prompt reporting when crooks tamper with gas pumps.

Early gas pump skimmers were devices placed over the pump’s real card readers. When a customer inserted a card to pay for fuel, the scammer was able to retrieve the name, number, and expiration date from the card.

Today’s card skimmers are more sophisticated and harder to detect. Today’s scammers have the ability to install them inside the pump. Using Bluetooth technology, they can easily steal consumers’ card data.

In 2019, scammers were able to steal credit card data at Wawa convenience stores on the East Coast by launching a phishing attack that resulted in malware being downloaded onto the company’s network. Without having to physically tamper with the pump, criminals were able to steal millions of credit card numbers.

New requirements for stations

The Florida law specifically addresses physical gas pump tampering. When it takes effect in January, it will require gas stations to put in place a secondary security measure in addition to pressure-sensitive security tape at the pump. 

Among the secondary security steps Florida gas stations can take are the installation of anti-skimmer devices, locks, and alarms. They can also make daily inspections on gas pumps or install tap-and-go payment systems that make it harder for skimmers to take your money.

Consumers are also responsible

Law enforcement officials say consumers should be more vigilant when they fill up and look for signs of tampering. The biggest giveaway that something is wrong should be when you notice the security tape that seals the opening to the pump is broken or missing.

Consumers can also avoid being victimized by this crime if they use gas pumps that are closest to the station’s building or in a highly visible area. Skimmers usually choose pumps that are out of the way to limit the risk of being observed.

A 2020 survey by CompareCards shows that this crime is widespread and getting worse. It found that 31% of credit card customers believe they have been a victim of a skimming incident at some point during the past year. That’s an increase from 23% in 2019 and 15% in 2018.

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