Scammed At The Pump: A New Law To Fight Credit Card Theft
by Tony Fusco
Gas skimming occurs when a criminal installs hardware inside a gas pump that steals (or attempts to steal) your credit card information. It’s a widespread problem throughout Florida and, according to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in one year authorities detected more than 260 skimming devices at Florida gas stations. “These skimming devices steal on average $1,000 per customer,” agency Commissioner Adam Putnam said at a news conference at a Shell gas station in West Miami-Dade County. “[They] can be left on for weeks, even months, sometimes without detection.” http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-new-gas-pump-anti-skimming-law-20160630-story.html
In order to combat this rising problem, a new law went into effect October 2016 that would make it a felony for criminals to place skimmers in gas pumps. The crime is punishable by up to a 15 year prison sentence.
Along with the threat of increased punishment for offenders, the law also requires all gas stations to place a security seal over the area where the skimmer would be installed. This seal is a warning mechanism for consumers, who can now look to see if the seal on the gas card reader is broken or damaged before inserting their card. However, gas pump owners need to install the security seals themselves and there is evidence that gas stations have not been fully compliant since the law has been passed. http://www.abcactionnews.com/longform/floridas-new-skimming-law-is-it-working
If your money or information is stolen by a gas skimmer and the pump owner/operator was not compliant with this new law, the lack of a security seal could be per se liability for the gas station owner since they did not comply with state regulations. Negligence “per se” means in the event of a civil action we would only need to prove that they violated the statute or regulation in order for liability to occur. If you had assets stolen by a gas skimmer, we may be able to bring a claim against the pump owner/operator to compensate you for that loss.
If you feel you have been the victim of a gas skimming scam take the following steps.
1) Cancel the affected card and immediately contact your bank or credit card company
2) Report the incident to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Their consumer complaint form can be found at csapp.800helpfla.com
3) Contact our office at 850-224-3310 for a free consultation to review your legal options.