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Plant City Observer Thursday, May 10, 2018 5 months ago

Check your engines

Changes are coming to local Circle K branches.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

By the end of May six Circle K locations across Plant City will be altering the gas offered to customers. 

In April, the company announced eight of its Hillsborough locations will be converted to Circle K fuel, which will include the “Top Tier” gas brand. Previously, the fuel had been provided by other brands, predominately Shell.
"By having a 360-degree Circle K experience at these locations, we will better be able to serve our customers," said David Morgan, Florida vice president of operations, in a release.

The issue, as clients across Plant City are beginning to find out, is Shell gas cards will soon no longer be accepted as a form of payment at the plentiful gas stops. 

Donald Staley, a concerned resident, said he has been using gas cards at the pump for years. Recently, when he went to fill up his tank he was told the location had already switched to the Circle K fuel. 

“It’s something people need to know,” Staley said. “The gas cards we’ve all been picking up at Publix or wherever aren’t going to work at these stations anymore.”

Gas cards offer multiple benefits to the customer depending on which card is purchased. The Shell cards allow the customer to manage the balance online, which helps control and manage spending. Though many are given as gifts to college and high school drivers, the cards have begun to gain popularity as identity theft become more prevalent at the pump.  

Some feel more comfortable knowing their debit cards remain firmly in their wallet when they purchase gas. The gas card allows them the freedom of remaining hassle free as the user does not have to interact with the clerk to get an allotted dollar at the pump as one would do if using cash. 

Card skimmers continue to be a major issue at gas stations and establishments across the country and costs nearly $2 billion a year in fraudulent charges. The number of credit and debit cards that were compromised at ATMs via card readers increased 70% in 2016, according to financial analytics company FICO.   

In just the first 10 months of 2017, approximately 500 skimming devices were located by law enforcement on gas pumps in Florida, which is more than the past two years combined, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The skimmers are advancing and customers are having to adapt to keep their bank account safe.

Circle K does, however, offer a Fleet Card, which acts as a fuel credit card and comes with savings up to $0.05 a gallon. Gas gift cards are also available through Circle K and can be purchased online.

Circle K is bringing the changes to one location in Tampa and one in Brandon on top of the six in Plant City. Statewide, the group has 63 locations with the Circle K fuel. 

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