Gas pumps in 2 states have been secretly stealing credit card information
A few months after Mercer Island, Washington reported issues with credit card skimmers popping up at gas stations throughout the area, two more states are experiencing issues with the identity stealing devices.
Gas stations in Ohio and Florida are now warning customers that if they plan to pay with plastic, it's best they pay inside.
SEE ALSO: Invisible thief: Credit card skimmers found inside pumps at local gas station
In just the past nine months, Florida authorities have found at least 165 skimmers at stations across the state, most of them in Southern Florida.
In Ohio, seven counties have been hit by this emerging form of identity theft, and officials are now saying that the Cuban crime rings they suspect to be responsible will not stay remain in one area for long.
"There seems to have been a pattern with a group of Cubans that have been hitting the Ohio area as well as Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky," explained Frank Applegate, an investigator with the Ohio Highway Patrol.
The issue with these non-high tech skimmers are how surprisingly easy they are to install: 10 seconds is all it takes for a criminal to open up a credit card machine, put a skimming device inside, shut the door and take off.
The assistant director of the Miami-Dade Police Department wants people to know how seriously they should be taking this issue because it happened to him. "Next thing I know, big purchases are being made. They're trying to buy a car, trying to get a mortgage."
So, how can you keep yourself and your bank account safe?
Instead of using your credit card on the actual machine, you could go inside and pay the clerk. If you must pay with plastic at the pump, check the machine for evidence of tampering . If it looks like the machine has been forced open in any way, report it immediately.
There are special locks available for gas pumps to prevent that kind of tampering, but the price is reportedly too high for many gas stations to afford. In this case, it may be necessary to take preventative matters into your own hands, as the criminals tend to move so quickly, they're almost impossible to catch.
"I don't think that we can stop them, frankly," warned County Auditor Matt Nolan.
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