C-Stores Defend Against Skimming


Retailers are using sealers and re-keying their pumps to protect customers' card data

As reports of "skimming" become more prevalent, convenience and petroleum retailers are taking varied steps to protect their pumps — and their customers — from criminals.

According to attendees at the recent NACS/Convenience Store News CIO Roundtable, the biggest threat c-store retailers face at the forecourt is skimmers, electronic devices thieves place on gas pumps to swipe and store consumers' debit and credit card data. When customers swipe their cards for purchases, the device captures and transmits card numbers, PIN codes and other personal information electronically via Bluetooth.

To prevent skimmers from being placed inside their fuel pumps, some retailers at the roundtable reported success using sealers. These sticker seals are placed on each pump so that store employees can easily check that the seals have not been broken.

Of course, such a measure relies on the employees taking the job seriously, which several of the retailers on the panel said unfortunately is not always the case.

Murphy USA trains both its store and support employees through computer-based training and periodic newsletters on how to identify skimmers. "Each shift and each time printer paper is changed at the pump, store employees look closely for signs of tampering. It is part of the store's process," explained Charles Jarrett, the company's director of retail IT. "We communicate to the stores the latest information shared from law enforcement, to include photos and how to respond if tampering is suspected. Protecting the customer's payment information is critical to our operation."

Other retailers, such as Kwik Trip Inc. out of La Crosse, Wis., are going a step further by re-keying all of their pumps. Gas pump manufacturers issue universal keys for their pumps, which means criminals can break into multiple pumps with just one copied universal key, and install a false keypad that skims consumers' card information.

Kwik Trip is going into every pump and re-keying it, so each location will require a unique key in order to access the pumps, said Tom Colbert, director of IT for the chain

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