With the official kickoff to the summer travel season upon us, Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black is protecting the wallets of consumers by conducting a campaign to check Georgia gas pumps for “skimmers,” devices that capture consumers’ credit and debit card information.
“Our fuel inspectors work hard to ensure travelers throughout the state receive the quality gasoline they pay for,” said Commissioner Black. “We are proud to extend those consumer protection efforts to include protecting our consumers from identity theft at the pump.”
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The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is conducting the skimmer operation in conjunction with the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores (GACS) as part of the department’s routine fuel dispenser inspections.
“We are thankful to be able to have the GDA put another set of eyes on the pumps,” stated Angela Holland, VP of Association Services with GACS. “Store owners are aware of this issue and are putting measures in place to help protect consumers. Retailers use security tape, alarms and frequent pump checks to keep consumer’ information safe.”
“Fortunately, it is an issue that the industry is aware of and many companies are taking extra steps on their own to implement further security efforts,” said Rich Lewis, director of the Fuels and Measures Division of GDA. “Hopefully those efforts combined with our surveillance will keep these thieves from entering Georgia and preying on our traveling public.”
GDA encourages consumers to consider a few steps that can mitigate the risk of identity theft while pumping gas, such as:
- Pay in cash inside the store to ensure the credit card information stays safe.
- Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with.
- Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away from the store so they are not noticed as quickly.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
- If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of a debit card. That way, the PIN number is safe.
- Monitor bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges.
Consumers who suspect their credit/bank card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company or banking institution. Complaints can also be reported to the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Fuels and Measures Division at (404) 656-3605.
About the GDA The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is the voice of the state’s agriculture community. The department’s mission is to provide excellence in services and regulatory functions, to protect and promote agriculture and consumer interests, and to ensure an abundance of safe food and fiber for Georgia, America, and the world by using state-of-the-art technology and a professional workforce. For more information, visit www.agr.georgia.gov.