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Watch out for gas card skimmers during the holidays

11:24 PM, Dec 2, 2013   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Filling up at the gas station is something we all do regularly. 

But how often do you check to make sure there isn't a card reading device attached by a crook waiting to rip you off? 

St Johns County Sheriff's deputies say during the holiday season we all should be on high alert, looking out for scammers wanting to swipe your money.

The holidays are a time for togetherness. Many of us travel near and far to be with loved ones. But while your attention is focused of getting to grandma's house, police say criminals have something else in mind. Officers say credit card skimming is common in the state of Florida and most often it happens at gas pumps. Criminals install skimmers and storage devices that can capture your account number using the magnetic strip on a card and your PIN number as you key it in.

"We see it mainly when it's travel time," said Sgt. Catherine Payne, St John's County Sheriff's Office. "So the summer, definitely the holidays Christmas, Thanksgiving. It's just a time to be vigilant."

She says they've dealt with multiple cases in the area.

"Its usually one geographic area, particularly one gas station," said Payne.

First For You: To avoid becoming a victim there are things you can look out for. Police say if a credit card machine looks like it has been tampered with don't use it.

And report it to the clerk in the gas station. Monitor your bank accounts regularly, that way you can report fraudulent activity immediately. And It's best to use a well lit pump officers suggest you use the pump that a clerk or attendant can actually see.

If you suspect something is wrong don't be afraid to get hands on.

"Actually take your hand and wiggle the sliding part of the machine itself," said Payne. "If it moves at all. Don't use it."

Credit card skimming can happen in a number of places, including at restaurants and ATM machines.

First Coast News

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