Blake Dowling: Beware cyber-skimming at the pump

While I was having lunch with Tallahassee banker Ben Graybar recently, we had an open dialogue on cyber security, cyber threats and how we can make sure our customers were protected.

We discussed common threats such as boss phishing, identity theft, crypto-locker, password protocols, and then some new threats came up.

One I had never of I particularly wanted to share. It hit me like the first bourbon and coke of football season. (We are close to game 1, sports fans.)

The scam in question involves pumping gas and credit card swiping at the pump.

The Department of Agriculture reports that 103 skimmer devices have been found at gas stations across the state when their inspector checked more than 7,000 operations.

The skimming device is a fraudulent keypad that sits on top of the actual credit card keypad. It allows you to run your fuel transactions, but then steals your credit card info.

If you see something that doesn’t look right while pumping your gas report it immediately. Things to look for would be a wobbly keypad, exposed wires, a pad that doesn’t feel stable, or a keypad that looks completely out of place with the rest of the pump.

Keep in mind not all skimming devices are easy to locate. Others could be placed inside the machine and those are certainly not going to be seen by the consumer.

This type of fraud is especially ruthless because your pin number can be stolen from a checking account. If a criminal runs a pinned transaction, you will have an extremely difficult time recouping any stolen money. As the Secret Service told one victim of this type of crime, you need to get in line behind the seven-figure victims.

That’s cold, but it’s the facts. They deal with the big, high-dollar cases first.

The inspections were run as a part of an on-going effort by the Florida Petroleum Council and other groups to educate the industry on this type of threat. Skimming devices were found in 29 Florida counties. That’s a huge footprint, and will only get bigger as law enforcement and consumers catch up to the criminals.

Law enforcement says to avoid this type of crime, use credit instead of debit (there’s better fraud prevention with credit cards). Or use cash or plastic inside the store while they play catchup with the criminals who perpetrate this type of fraud.

That may sound extreme but it’s certainly better than waking up one morning with your checking account drained.

Be safe out there.

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Guest Author

One comment

  • Phil

    August 25, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Well if a state agency is handling it, I am sure they will handle it like other consumer complaints….they will mail the offending part an unpleasant letter and nothing more.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn