SARASOTA (WWSB) - Swiping your card at a gas station could cost more than just a tank of gas.
According to The University of Florida,credit card skimmers is a multi-billion dollar problem. To fix the issue, researchers have created a new device called a ‘Skim Reaper’ to catch credit card thieves.
Punta Gorda Police Department Lieutenant Dylan Renz said thieves can steal your credit card information by placing a skimmer either inside or outside of a gas pump.
Some drivers say because of this they're more cautious.
“I kind of look to see if the credit card intake has any issues and I don’t use my debit card anymore, I only use my credit card in case there is a problem, of course they’ll reimburse you,” said Lehigh Acres resident, C. Kay Best.
Renz said the city now requires putting locks on gas pumps because of this problem.
"The recent city ordinance that we enacted here in Punta Gorda alleviates the issue of people trying to get into the gas pumps to install the internal kind. Our concern is that the skimmers will start using the external type of skimmers," said Renz.
And to protect the city against external skimmers, the department has reached out to University of Florida researchers to test out the newly developed ‘Skim Reaper’ device.
"It's a computer, it's attached to a device that looks like a credit card. We slide it in and out and the computer will tell us whether that card is being read twice. So we can use it on multiple machines at a time," Renz said.
Punta Gorda is not the only city that sees skimmers at gas stations, North Port Police Department's Public Information Officer, Josh Taylor, said they see people using skimmers from time to time. This has caused North Port Commissioners to start talking about strengthening local ordinances.
"I know our commission has talked and the police force has talked about trying to give us some more teeth as far as enforcing, making sure that businesses are being diligent, making sure that they have the right alarms and technology to let them know when someone has tampered with one of their machines. So we're hopeful that some of that will move forward," Taylor said.
Taylor said the department is curious about the new skim reaper technology and would be interested if it's proven to protect people's credit card information.
Punta Gorda Police Department is going to be one of the first stations in the state to try this out. But the long term goal for the University of Florida is to not only have police use these devices, but also banks and retailers.