New Florida law will help police agencies crack down on credit card skimmers

Photo via Holmes Beach Police Department

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Governor Rick Scott just signed a bill into law that will increase penalties for crooks caught using gas pump skimmers. It’s a problem that has been sweeping the Tampa Bay area in recent years, so officers need all the help they can get to crack down on this trend.

Skimming devices are a nuisance to police, gas station owners and most importantly, everyday people. Crooks quickly install the skimmers inside ATMs or gas pumps and steal credit or debit card numbers from unsuspecting customers like Jim Krick.

“[An investigator] asked me if my card was missing and I said, ‘no I have it,’” recalled Krick.

A skimmer stole his data and the crooks spent his money in stores across the state.

“It was a scary situation, knowing that I got rent due and all my money is being drained out of my account,” said Krick.

It’s hard for police to crack down on these criminals, but the new law will help deter these criminals. House Bill 343, which was signed into law, makes it a felony to even own one of these skimming devices.

“When we do find these folks, because it’s so hard to do so, when we do find them, we can actually put more charges on them and make those charges stick,” said Sarasota Police Lt. Randy Boyd.

The bill’s authors say the devices hold no usefulness other than for crime. So if anyone is found in possession of it, they could face up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.

“If we can get stiffer penalties for the crime, they won’t come to our community,” said Lt. Boyd.

This tougher law will come in handy for police officers. But, Krick said he’s not taking his chances.

“I assume I’m better off going inside and paying inside,” said Krick.

Another point about this law is it keeps up with modern technology. All the old skimmer laws only addressed magnetic strips, but most cards have chips now. The new law addresses that.

It will officially take effect October 1st.

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