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Fight Fraud at the Pump

Mastercard and Visa have moved the liability shift for EMV at the fuel pump from October 2017 to October 2020. So what can you do to fight fraud and protect your customers now without EMV technology? The first step in fighting fraud outside of your c-store is understanding how fuel pump fraud occurs and the potential ways to prevent it.

Knowledge is a Form of Protection

Before you can fight fraud outside of your store you need to be aware of the things that can happen.

Gas Pump Skimmers are devices that are usually spliced in card reader cabling inside of the machine. They can also be mounted outside of the machine on top of the real card reader, and be designed to look just like the standard card reader. These skimmers are used to capture a customer's credit/debit information encoded into the magnetic strip on the back of the card. This is dangerous for customers because once their credit or debit card data is compromised, they could be left temporarily unable to access to their account. This becomes an even bigger problem once customers have to deal with legal proceedings pertaining to identity theft.

Stolen Cards are frequently used at gas pumps because of the lack of interaction with a human and the particularly low barrier to completing the fraudulent transaction.  The ease with which a credit card can be used at a gas pump makes them a big hit for people using others' cards.

Imagine the repercussions if this type of fraud happened at your fuel pump.  Not only are the victimized customers likely to never to return, anyone that hears about their story is far less likely to use your business. Also, be aware of any potential customer or owner liability.  In many fraud instances, you will be held accountable financially.

Once the EMV deadline occurs, if you have not yet switched over to an EMV capable fuel pump then you could be liable for financial losses that occur on any non-EMV compatible pumps. You still have until October 2020, but it is never too soon to start considering how you will make the switch.

Simple Preventative Solutions

  • Every week you and your employees should be checking the interior and exterior of all of your fuel pumps. Familiarize yourselves with examples of different skimming devices so that you and your employees know what to look for. An easy way to check for tampering over a period of time is to install security tape on all of your fuel pumps. That way you can monitor whether the pump station door has been opened or tampered with. If the tape is torn then you know the door has been opened.
  • Also, consider installing a secure locking system and door entry detection devices on all of your fueling stations. Although this may be an inconvenient added cost now, it could save you and your customers from financial disaster down the line. You will be able to rest assured knowing that these devices will help in preventing your fuel pumps from being tampered with.
  • Lastly, one of the most important things you can implement is security cameras in hard monitor areas. This can record any vehicles coming in, and see any tampering that may occur. This gives you eyes outside of the store, helping you and your employees watch for any potential tampering with your fuel pumps.

Employees Fighting Fraud

All of these suggestions are great in the fight against fuel pump fraud, but your best weapon is your employees. The more people at your store that are aware and on the lookout for potential fuel pump fraud, the more likely you are to catch fraud before you and your customers become victims. Have them watch for suspicious behavior, such as:

  • Cars that stay at fuel stations for an extended period of time
  • Cars sitting in the parking lot for an extended period of time
  • Multiple cars fueling at the same fuel station, with the same payment
  • Unscheduled technicians working on the fuel pumps

There should also be a log of every time a technician or employee opens the fuel pump for any reason. Always have two people present when opening a fuel pump, so that there is accountability and a witness if anything were to be tampered with. Keeping a thorough log of these activities can be very useful if any instance of fraud occurs and law enforcement becomes involved. It is also smart to become acquainted with local officers. To be safe, keep their contact numbers within your store and ensure they are accessible to all employees.

Found a Skimming Device?

If you ever find a skimming device attached to one of your fuel pumps it is important to know what steps to take in getting it removed. Although you may be tempted to pull it off yourself, please refrain from doing so. Immediately place a sign on the pump that it is out of service, and contact your local police department for their assistance. Gather any logs, surveillance video, and receipts from the pump within the suspected time frame of tampering, and make sure to question all employees that may have been working. Give all of the evidence to the officers when they arrive. Make contact with a technician so that they can professionally remove the device with the police present. This protects you and your fuel pump from any further damage.

Information Source:

Aldot Enforcement, comp. Credit/Debit Card Skimmer Reference Sheet. Alabama: n.p., n.d. Print.

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