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.

More than 8 million Cuisinart food processors recalled due to blade hazard

This is one of several types of Cuisinart food processors recalled by Conair.
This is one of several types of Cuisinart food processors recalled by Conair.

Just as the holiday food preparation season is heating up, Conair has voluntarily recalled more than 8 million Cuisinart food processors due to a laceration hazard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said today.

The food processors’s riveted blade can crack over time and small metal pieces of the blade can break off into the processed food.

Consumers should immediately stop using the  riveted blade and contact Cuisinart for a free replacement blade.

Conair has received 69 reports of consumers finding broken pieces of the blade in processed food, including 30 reports of mouth lacerations or tooth injuries.

This recall involves the riveted blades in Cuisinart food processors  sold between 1996 and 2015 with model numbers that begin with the following:  CFP-9, CFP-11, DFP-7, DFP-11, DFP-14,  DLC-5, DLC-7, DLC-8, DLC-10, DLC-XP, DLC-2007, DLC-2009, DLC-2011, DLC-2014, DLC-3011, DLC-3014, EV-7, EV-10, EV-11, EV-14, KFP-7 and MP-14.

The model number is located on the bottom of the food processor. The blades have four rivets and are silver-colored stainless steel and have a beige plastic center hub. Only food processors with four rivets in the blades are included in this recall. Cuisinart is printed on the front and on the bottom of the food processors.

The food processors are made in China and distributed by Conair Corp. of Stamford, Conn., which owns the Cuisinart brand.

Here’s how to reach Cuisinart:

Cuisinart toll-free at 877-339-2534 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday or online at  www.cuisinart.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information on the voluntary recall.

Ripped off? Here’s where to call to file a complaint in Florida.

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Been ripped off by a moving company, fitness studio, telemarketer or other business?

If you’re wondering where to file a complaint, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints.

Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832). For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.

You can also check to see if a business is licensed and whether any complaints have been filed against it. The department regulates charities as well. If the complaint is about a business it doesn’t regulate, the complaint will be referred to the appropriate agency.

During November, the department recovered more than $300,000 for Florida consumers.

In 2015, the department recovered nearly $3 million for Florida consumers from all types of businesses such as vehicle repair shops, sellers of travel and more.

During the month of November, the department:

·        Recovered $302,940 on behalf of Florida consumers;

·        Received 2,603 complaints;

·        Initiated 188 investigations;

·        Arrested 14 individuals;

·        Provided assistance to 21,043 consumers through the 1-800-HELP-FLA hotline, online chats and emails; and

·        Added 11,169 telephone numbers to Florida’s Do Not Call List.

As the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, the department educates the public, investigates complaints and provides mediation on behalf of consumers. The department’s call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data safe this season? Credit report firms lead agency gripe list

You might like to think credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the folks who are supposed to protect and keep your consumer data straight this holiday shopping season. But they lead all companies in the latest quarterly complaint list released Tuesday from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, outpacing banks led by Citibank.

Complaints from Florida increased 14 percent for June through August 2016, compared to same quarter a year earlier, ranking it among the top 20 states with the biggest increases in gripes.

credit reportCredit reporting firms compile information on more than 220 million U.S. consumers that can play a critical role in determining if people get favorable terms when they apply for loans and charge cards, apartments or even jobs or insurance. Some complaints are to be expected, but problems that consumers face in challenging or clearing up mistakes have proved persistent.

As The Palm Beach Post reported, the annual cost of ID theft has been tallied near $25 billion, more than burglary, vehicle and other forms of property theft combined.

Florida led the nation in identity theft complaints in 2015 to another federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission. The region including Miami and West Palm Beach topped the nation in reported identify theft per capita in 2014 and remained in the top three last year.

The Consumer Data Industry Association, whose members include big credit reporting companies, had no immediate comment.

Most Complaints by Company
1. Equifax
2. Experian
3. TransUnion
4. Citibank
5. Bank of America
6. Wells Fargo
7. JPMorgan Chase
8. Capital One
9. Ocwen
10. Navient Solutions Inc.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, June-Aug. 2016

What’s the fastest growing consumer complaint?

Complaints about phony IRS agents and other imposter scams, tax ID theft and energy services were the top three fastest-growing complaints last year, according to a report released Wednesday.

When you answer the phone, how can you be sure the caller is telling you who they really are? (Getty Images)
When you answer the phone, how can you be sure the caller is telling you who they really are? (Getty Images)

Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America, said, “Scammers are always changing their pitches and looking for things that work. The IRS phony agent obviously works. It scares the heck out of people.”

The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators report is based on input from 33 consumer agencies from 21 states, including the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

To read the full report, which provides additional suggestions for new laws as well as descriptions of agencies’ biggest achievements and challenges and tips for how consumers can protect themselves, click here.

Grant said imposter scams of all kinds have really taken off in the last year. She theorizes that a lot of people are behind on paying their taxes and don’t realize that the IRS does not call people asking them to send money.

“There is an alarming trend. It has gotten to the point that if someone is saying they are from a government agency, or your utility, or it’s your boss, you really don’t know whether in fact that is true. You need to be skeptical and check directly with whom they purport to represent before you send any money or give information,” Grant said.

In a new type of imposter scam, crooks infiltrate companies’ or organizations’ email systems and send messages purporting to be from the CEOs to employees with urgent instructions to wire money somewhere.

Tax and wage-related fraud were the most common forms of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year, so it’s no surprise that tax ID theft was one of the fastest-growing complaints to state and local consumer agencies, the report says.

Aggressive sales tactics for solar power and electricity seem to be at the root of energy services comlais.

“Consumers are misled about the potential savings, locked into long-term contracts, and in some cases, discover that their service has been switched to another complaint without their consent,” the report states.

The top 10 complaints received last year by agencies participating in the CFA survey were automotive, home improvement/construction, utilities, credit/debt, retail sales, services, landlord/tenant, household goods, health products/services and Internet sales.