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State officials warn about gas skimmers ahead of Holiday weekend

Posted at 10:57 PM, Jul 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 23:31:56-04
State officials are warning drivers about possible skimmers at gas stations this holiday weekend.
 
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering tips for drivers who are planning to travel this holiday weekend. 
 
Every Independence Day, Kristi Palacios hits the road with her family. 
 
"We always go to Disney every Fourth of July," said Palacios.
 
She's never been a victim of fraud, but she knows the risks she takes every time she uses her card at the pump. 
 
"My dad has actually taught me to kind of try and see if the little card thing if it like jiggles a little bit," said Palacios.
 
The Department wants drivers like Palacios to be alert, but even more than that be proactive. Use cash instead of plastic. 
 
"I never have cash on me," added Palacios.
 
That's the case for many nowadays, the convenience of a swipe leaves no need for the green. The Department says there is a way to use your card and still have more protection. 
 
"I just take the extra mile of just going inside and having the face to face with the person that’s taking money off my card," said Sophonie Levy.
 
Other options are:
-Use a credit card instead of a debit card. They have better fraud protection
-If you must use a debit card, run it as credit
-Use pumps closest to the store
-Monitor your bank accounts regularly
 
In a span of a little more than a year, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says more than 250 skimmers were removed in Florida with an average of 1,000 dollars stolen from each victim. 
 
On October 1, a new law will require gas stations to add a security seal over the area of the pump where these skimmers are being installed. It will also make the crime a second degree felony, increasing the maximum prison sentence from 5 years to 15. 
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