CLEARWATER, Fla. (FOX 13) - Clearwater detectives are warning drivers about a new Bluetooth skimmer they found Tuesday that had never been seen before in the area.
Police found the device hidden inside Pump 9 at the 7-Eleven gas station on North Belcher Road. Employees called them after they could not open the pump.
Clearwater police spokesperson Rob Shaw said the Bluetooth capability allows thieves to sit across the street and get all of your card information.
“They wouldn't have to come back to the gas pump at all, and they could very discreetly and quickly steal all of your information,” said Shaw. “We were told by some of the workers out here that service the pumps that it literally would have taken less than a minute to probably breach the pump, insert that device and then be gone.”
Workers repaired Pump 9 Tuesday afternoon before it was back open for customers.
As of last month, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said 720-plus skimmers were found statewide this year, including 34 in Hillsborough County and 29 in Pinellas County.
To protect yourself, there are signs to watch out for.
“When you go to the gas pump, check the credit card sleeve, if there's anything loose,” said Mark Jenkins, a spokesperson for AAA Florida. “The keypad, see if there's anything loose on that and also look for the label. If that's been tampered with, you might want to move on to another pump.”
AAA said major card companies Visa and MasterCard are pushing for improved security, now requiring pumps to use a chip and pin as well as better locks.
“There are about 46,000 gas pumps across the state of Florida. So far, about 60 percent of those pumps have been changed out. So retailers have until October 2020 to make that change,” said Jenkins.
The 7-Eleven corporate office sent FOX 13 a statement on the investigation saying “7-Eleven takes card skimmers and any other illegal activity at its stores very seriously. Store employees inspect gas pumps regularly and cooperate closely with law enforcement regarding related investigations.”
Another tip is to go inside and pay with your card or use cash, and police recommend paying with a credit card, not a debit card.
Clearwater detectives said if anyone used Pump 9 at that 7-Eleven to watch your bank statements closely or cancel your card to be safe.
If you know anything about the crime, call Clearwater police at (727) 562-4242.