Florida needs tougher laws to prevent thieves from using credit card skimming devices at self-service gas station pumps to steal people’s identifications, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said during a stop in Tampa on Monday.
Putnam’s statements come after his agents discovered six skimmers at five gas stations around Tampa Bay in November. Since March, his agency has uncovered 166 skimmers at gas pumps around the state. One skimming device can victimize up to 5,000 people.
Skimmers look like regular credit card readers, but thieves install them at self-service gas pumps to capture a person’s credit card information.
Putnam, whose agency also oversees the Department of Consumer Services, is backing state legislation that would increase penalties for people who install the skimmers and require gas stations to do more to prevent them from being installed in the first place.
The bill, which is being pushed by Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, and Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, is in its early stages. Both filed similar bills in November, but neither has been heard by any committees in either the House or Senate yet.
Putnam’s agency routinely checks pumps for skimmers at gas stations and has been trying to raise awareness of the problem by reaching out to the Florida Petroleum Council and the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.