Payment Skimming: An Old Battle in Need of a New Solution

By David Mostovoy

For as long as people have had bank cards, thieves have targeted the information they hold. Even though old magnetic strips are gradually being phased out for the moresecure EMV chip card technology, attacks on ATM machines and gas pumps are not subsiding. In fact, the attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated.

The U.S. Secret Service Criminal Investigation Division recently issued a warning about “skimmers” at gas pumps. Skimmers are criminals who install devices at gas pumps to gain access to a customer’s bank and credit information. They typically break into a gas pump and install a hidden device that steals or skims credit card information off of the magnetic strip. They can even use Bluetooth to immediately send out stolen information.

Unfortunately, just looking at a payment terminal is usually not enough to tell whether it has a skimming device in or on it. Authorities and companies are now training gas station operators to detect skimming devices. In these challenging times, this simple fact can’t be overstated: It’s crucial that convenience store and gas station operators stay ahead of the curve and audit their own payment terminals for skimming devices.

We get it. As an operator, you have enough regulatory issues to worry about, both inside and outside your store. But operators need to start thinking about this issue beyond any immediate inconvenience like staff training. Think instead of the damage to your brand if a skimming device is found at one of your stores. Regaining customers who lose trust in your ability to keep their financial information safe will be a tough, if not impossible, feat.

Preventing skimming attacks is your responsibility to your customers

In fact, the state of Arizona is taking a different approach to combat a spike in fuel skimming attacks over the past year. In what seems like an effort to get business owners to “get with the program” of preventative measures, the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Weights and Measures Services Division now files a report that details whether fuel station owners who have had instances of skimming had observed industry best-practices leading up to the skimming events. The reports have revealed failures to install security cameras, tamper-proof security tape, and non-standard pump locks. In some of these incidents, thieves with master keys were able to unlock the pumps to freely install skimming devices.

There is simply no excuse for not changing the factory-default locks on pumps. Also, it’s something an audit of the pump and payment terminal would readily not

‘More Paperwork’ is No Longer a Valid Excuse

If you’re a gas station operator who is not routinely checking your payment terminals for skimming devices, you can no longer postpone such audits. In fact, you can build a custom audit form and distribute it easily, right to the mobile devices of your store managers. A platform like Zenput gives you the ability to track compliance among managers and follow up on a store-by-store basis. Better yet, Zenput’s real-time notifications will alert senior managers when a security threat is detected during an audit.

To learn more about how Zenput is used to check the security of ATMs, download the case on Welch ATM by clicking on the “Learn How” button to the right.

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