Tampa folks: Watch out for advanced credit card skimmers at the gas pumps!

make sure the security seal isn't broken

If you’re paying at the gas pump in Tampa, be aware that advanced credit/debit card skimmers have been found on pumps at the following Shell/Circle K stations in South Tampa:

4015 S. Westshore Blvd.

6416 S. Dale Mabry Highway

3650 S. Dale Mabry Highway

Unlike the skimmers that we’re often told to look out for — the type that are attached on top of an ATM’s or gas pump’s credit/debit card slot — these ones were installed internally, which eliminated most of the tell-tale signs of physical tampering and alteration. Whoever installed these skimmers used a master key to access the pumps’ internals and connect them directly to the pump’s computer. There’d be none of the usual warning signs, such as a dangling wire or damage around the slot where you’d insert your card. The one sign is a broken seal on the pump (see the photo at the top of this article for a photo of an intact seal).

Here’s the story on Tampa Bay Online.

If you’re paying at the pump in Tampa (or anywhere else, for that matter):

  • Take a good look at the card reader and the seal. If either seem damaged, don’t pay at the pump.
  • Favor using a credit card over a debit card. Credit cards leave a better paper trail, let you contest individual payments, and don’t give thieves access to your bank account.
  • Try to use a pump that’s in line-of-sight of the attendant. Thieves are less likely to tamper with a pump in plain view of a gas station employee. Keep in mind that most gas station employees are just marking time until their break, so don’t count on their vigilance.
  • If you want to play it really safe, pay inside the store…and with cash.

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Thanks to Sean Galbraith for the heads-up!

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