Shell warns of credit card skimmers found at Sarasota gas stations

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- You could be robbed the next time you stop for gas, and no, we're not talking about the high price at the pump. Shell's Fraud Prevention Team has issued a warning about "skimmers" -- small devices inserted into gas pumps that swipe the credit card information of unsuspecting customers -- and the Suncoast is an area of concern.

According to Shell's press release, "Shell’s Fraud Prevention Team has received credible information that skimming devices are being placed and recovered in dispensers at service stations in Longwood, Orlando, Sarasota, Ft. Myers, Wildwood and Palm Beach Florida areas. Skimming is an illegal act that involves obtaining account data to produce counterfeit cards."

Crooks use "skimmers" to copy the information encoded into a credit card's magnetic strip. The info is then used to produce counterfeit credit cards that the criminal can use anywhere cards are accepted. 

Shell's Fraud Prevention Team offers no advice to customers, which makes sense since the skimmer is placed inside the pump and there is little a shopper can do to avoid becoming a victim. The good news is that fraudulent charges that show up on your statement are more your bank's problem than yours, and any stolen money should be refunded after a few business days. Do note, however, that it is the consumer's responsibility to report fraud to the credit card company as soon as they become aware of it.

As for gas station owners, Shell makes the following recommendations: 

· Immediately check all outside dispensers and countertop payment devices at your location(s) for skimming devices.

· If skimmers are discovered, immediately turn off outside dispenser(s) so customers cannot access it. DO NOT TAMPER WITH THE DEVICE!

· Call law enforcement for skimmer removal and evidence gathering. Take photos of the skimming device while it is connected and after it has been removed.

· Should you have any problem obtaining a law enforcement response, please contact George Smith with Shell Business Integrity Department at 661-231-5162.

· Also report incident to Shell’s Credit Card Fraud Group at 713-241-8232.