There are a lot of dangers on the road this Fourth of July weekend — this is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, and officials are warning drivers to be cautious.
But Florida’s agriculture commissioner, Adam Putnam, is warning travelers to watch for a danger at the gas pump: devices called skimmers that could potentially steal your credit or debit card information.
In a news release, Putnam said the skimmers “are the last thing (travelers) want to deal with” this weekend.
Putnam said in the news release that in a little over a year, his Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has found and removed more than 250 skimmers from Florida gas station pumps.
Each skimmer is estimated to grab the information of about 100 customers, with about $1,000 stolen on average from each person — meaning each skimmer could rake in $100,000.
Here are Putnam’s tips to avoid skimmers:
• Pay inside the gas station in cash.
• Check the gas pump cabinet to make sure it’s closed and that it hasn’t been tampered with. Look for security tape or a sticker, and see if it looks peeled or broken.
• Use a pump closer to the front of the store. Putnam said skimmers often are placed at pumps farther away from where clerks can easily see someone tamper with them.
• Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Most credit cards have better protection against most types of fraud, Putnam said. Plus, debit cards immediately withdraw money from your account. If you do use a debit card, choose to run it as a credit card so you don’t have to enter your PIN.
If you think your credit card number may have been stolen or otherwise compromised, report it to your credit card company.
If you believe you may have found a skimmer, contact the gas station manager, local law enforcement or the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 800-435-7352.