Find out where latest skimmers were detected in Palm Beach County

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said it found two gasoline pump skimmers within the last week in Palm Beach County. They were both discovered in West Palm Beach at:

  • 7-Eleven Inc., 3035 N Military Trail, West Palm Beach
  • Texaco/Sunshine #37, 2274 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

The skimmers were found as part of a statewide sweep of gasoline stations in popular spring break destinations. In our area, inspectors probed pumps at 51 service stations, finding the two skimmers in that search.

Getting gas at the Shell station at 5980 Okeechobee Blvd in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 13, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Getting gas at the Shell station at 5980 Okeechobee Blvd in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 13, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Across Florida, state officials said they inspected 500 gasoline stations in the targeted markets, yielding a total of eight skimmers.

The state estimates that for each skimmer undetected, as many as 100 consumers can have their credit card information stolen — leading to an average of $1,000 worth of fraudulent transactions.

“From Okaloosa County to Miami-Dade County, these skimmers are being placed on gas pumps and stealing from unsuspecting residents and visitors,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “We will continue to crackdown on these devices – and the criminals responsible for them.”

Since early 2015, the department said it has detected more than 430 skimmers across the Sunshine State. The areas inspected in this sweep, the number of facilities inspected and numbers of skimmers found are as follows:

  • Panama City Beach/ Panhandle –77 facilities, 0 skimmers found
  • Orlando area – 128 facilities, 0 skimmers found
  • Clearwater / St. Pete Beach – 66 facilities, 4 skimmers found
  • One Stop, Giant BP #109, 6151 4th St N, St. Petersburg
  • One Food of Pinellas Inc. #23, 901 4th St N, St. Petersburg
  • Quick Mart of Largo, 1990 West BAY Dr., Largo (2 skimmers)
  • Ft. Myers Beach – 36 facilities, 0 skimmers found
  • Daytona Beach/ Cocoa Beach/ Flagler Beach/ New Smyrna Beach – 75 facilities, 1 skimmer found
  • Sunoco Food Mart, 5625 N Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach
  • West Palm Beach – 51 facilities, 2 skimmers found
  • Mobil/7-Eleven Inc., 3035 N Military Trail, West Palm Beach
  • Texaco/Sunshine #37, 2274 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
  • Ft. Lauderdale – 25 facilities, 1 skimmer found
  • Valero, 1 N Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach
  • Miami – 21 facilities, 0 skimmers found

 

State officials issued these steps they say consumers should follow to protect themselves:

  • Pay in cash inside the store to ensure the credit card information stays safe.
  • Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with. Many stations are now putting a piece of security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened by unauthorized individuals.
  • Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away from the store so they are not noticed as quickly.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
  • If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of a debit card. That way, the PIN number is safe.
  • Monitor bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges.
  • Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company.

 

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.

How to avoid gas pump credit card skimmers as you travel this weekend

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.

John Garrity of Loxahatchee Electronics Corporation says consumers should look for a sticker indicating a security system installation on gas pumps.  (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)
John Garrity of Loxahatchee Electronics Corporation says consumers should look for a sticker indicating a security system installation on gas pumps. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

In a news release, Putnam said the skimmers “are the last thing (travelers) want to deal with” this weekend.

» MAP: Where were skimmers found in Florida last year?

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.

» RELATED: How scammers use skimmers to steal your credit card at the pump

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.

Court overturns state’s approval of proposed Turkey Point plans

FPL's Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.
FPL’s Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.

Florida Power & Light’s quest to add two new reactors and miles of new transmission lines at its Turkey Point plant south of Miami experienced a major setback Wednesday when an appellate court overturned a state decision that would have permitted the reactors.

While the 2014  approval of Units 6 & 7 by Gov. Rick Scott and his Cabinet found the project would not harm the Everglades  or wetlands and would not impact endangered birds such as the snail kite and the wood stork,  the court disagreed.

To read the 28-page ruling, click here.

The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the state’s approval of nuclear Units 6 and 7 in an appeal brought by the City of Miami, the Village of Pinecrest and Miami-Dade County.

The court remanded the case and found the board failed to apply Miami’s applicable land development regulations, failed to properly apply environmental regulations and erroneously thought it did not have the power to require FPL to install miles of power lines underground at FPL’s expense.

“FPL presented no competent substantial evidence that the project could satisfy the environmental performance standards” of Miami-Dade County rules, Judge Ivan Fernandez wrote in the ruling.

The siting board, which approves new power plants, is made up of Gov. Scott and his Cabinet, consisting of Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The board also approved  FPL’s plan to install miles of new transmission lines, which the court said pose an additional hazard for birds which could collide with the poles and lines.

FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said in an email Wednesday, “The Siting Board adopted a well-reasoned decision of the Administrative Law Judge and issued the Certification for these critically important electrical transmission facilities. We are disappointed by the Court’s decision reversing the Siting Board and remanding the matter back to the Siting Board for further proceedings on the transmission facilities. We are reviewing the court’s opinion and will be evaluating our legal options.”

By the end of this year, FPL customers will have paid $247 million towards units 6 and 7. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not yet issued the operating license for the project slated to be completed by 2028.

Juno Beach based FPL’s Turkey Point plant is home to two nuclear reactors, known as units 3 and 4. The plant’s two-by-five mile unlined earthen cooling canal system has caused an underwater saltwater plume that has spread roughly 5 miles west of the plant, an administrative law judge found in February.

The cooling canals have been linked to pollutants in Biscayne Bay and into ground water, according to data released by Miami-Dade County.