Megan Holland didn’t realize that her card had been skimmed at the Pearl Country Store in Micanopy until she saw a Facebook post warning residents about the issue.
The Micanopy resident then contacted her bank, and she was informed of a $60 charge from Walmart and three other declined charges.
The bank refunded her.
“I have been back [to Pearl], but I’ve paid in store versus outside of the pump,” Holland said. “It’s inconvenient because I have a 3-year-old.”
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating the card-skimming fraud at the store on U.S. Highway 441 since becoming aware of the issue last week.
It is unknown how long the skimmer had been in place, according to the sheriff’s office.
The manager of the store was not immediately available for comment.
Cary Gallop, a crime-prevention deputy with the sheriff’s office, recommends that people who have been to Pearl in the last 60 days check with their financial institutions.
“Maybe have that card canceled and reissued to you,” he said. “Let them know that you’ve had some suspicious activity.”
There are three main ways for people to avoid having their cards skimmed, Gallop said. They are: keeping track of transactions, informing the gas station of anything wrong with the pumps, and reporting suspicious activity around gas stations or ATMs.
“Preventing from being scanned and/or having any of your information stolen starts with, first off, keeping good records,” he said.
Once someone’s information is stolen, the thief may be taking only a couple of dollars at a time, and people who don’t check their statements or keep track of transactions may not notice, Gallop said.
Security tape placed on gas pumps serves as “the first indicator that somebody’s been inside of the gas pump and tampered with the skimmer,” he said.
Broken security tape is not an entirely reliable way to tell, but it is something customers should pay attention to and bring to the manager’s attention, Gallop said.
Holland said she checks to make sure that nothing is wrong with gas pumps she uses.
“I have left a gas station because the seal has been broken before,” she said.
Gas buyers, Holland said, should “make sure [the equipment] doesn’t look like it’s been tampered with.”