AUSTIN – Consumers in Texas and across the United States
need to be vigilant about new threats to their data from card skimmers. This
week, the Texas Food and Fuel Association (TFFA) launched new campaign to share tips
for keeping card data safe at the pump. The effort includes three public
service announcements (PSAs) featuring Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, a
social media campaign and a website.
“Skimming is an unfortunate part of today’s
technology-driven society,” Acevedo says in the video PSAs. “If you’re
concerned about a gas pump’s security, or think you’ve detected a skimmer,
report it to the store management immediately. Convenience stores, law
enforcement, and consumers in Texas all play a crucial role in preventing
skimming at the pump.”
“Fortunately, incidents of credit card skimming make up a
very small fraction of the over-all fill ups across our state but our industry
is committed to arming consumers with the information they need to protect
their credit card data,” said Paul Hardin, TFFA president. “Chief Acevedo is a
recognized and well-respected leader in law enforcement. We appreciate his
commitment to this issue and his partnership with us in our consumer awareness
According to the TFFA, here are key tips for consumers to
stay safe at the pump:
examination: when at the pump, check the dispenser door for signs of forced
entry. A good indicator of a problem is a door that does not align properly or
has unusual scraping or wear around the edges.
the gas pump has security labels, check to see if they have been broken.
on the card reader and run your fingernail around the edge of the keypad
to make sure they are firm and secure; thieves often install overlays that are
loose and have a tendency to wiggle.
using a debit card at the pump, run it as a credit card instead of entering a
PIN. If that’s not an option, shield the keypad when entering a PIN.
always, it’s a good idea to monitor credit card and bank accounts regularly to
spot unauthorized charges.
The Texas convenience store industry also is working to
combat misinformation such as reports encouraging customers to use their
Bluetooth to detect skimmers at the pump. Hardin said this method is unreliable
for key reasons:
cell phone Bluetooth range can pick up signals from nearby vehicles or
bystanders up to 30 feet away.
naming is not regulated: While a random string of numbers and letters on a
device list might appear suspicious, that does not mean the signal is being
emitted from a skimmer on the pump.
“Using a smartphone’s Bluetooth isn’t an accurate or
reliable way to detect the presence of a skimmer,” Hardin said. “And doing so
may lead to a false positive reading that can cause a pump to be shut down—often
for several weeks—which can negatively impact a convenience store, the owners,
employees, and customers.”
Collectively, TFFA members own, operate and supply more
than 12,000 retail, commercial and agriculture fueling sites across Texas;
distribute approximately 9 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel each
year; and supply fuels to end users including motorists, aviation, marine,
manufacturing, government, agriculture and construction. “The convenience
retailing industry is working to combat this issue through employee education,
software upgrades, and modernized equipment,” Hardin said.
More information from TFFA on card skimmers is available
resources for the convenience and fuel retailing industry can also be found at convenience.org/skimming.