LANSING, Mich. – Gas pump scammers steal your credit card information in just seconds, allowing thieves access to your accounts, but pending legislation paired with some new industry standards could help put an end to credit card skimmers.
There’s no federal guidelines here other than Visa and MasterCard (EMV: Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) who set the industry standards. By October 2017, these companies are shifting the liability from banks, who take the responsibility for fraudulent sales, and placing it on the merchants. Therefore, retailers have about one year to install chip reading gas pumps.
According to Michigan Petroleum Association President Mark Griffin, this comes with a price tag: on average, the switch to EMV-ready pumps will cost a gas station $100,000, to protect against cred card skimming.
Since August 2015 when inspectors found the first credit card skimmer in the Grand Rapids area, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials say officials and gas pump owners have removed about 70 skimmers throughout Michigan.
Checking for credit card skimmers is now part of the daily duties for MDARD’s Weights and Measures inspectors, and they also continue to do unannounced “blitzes,” where inspectors solely focus on this search.
“One is too many, but 70 out of 20,000 [gas dispensers in Michigan] isn’t a huge number percentage wise, but as we’ve said, one is one too many,” said Griffin. “We are taking steps: we’re changing locks, we’re being more vigilant.”
Bennett Pump Company in Spring Lake is one of three gas dispenser manufacturers. Their officials tell FOX 17 Friday it takes four to six weeks to fill orders for their EMV-ready new pumps. At this point, about 90 percent of their retail dispensers have the EMV-ready products, i.e. chip readers.
In the meantime, Griffin says gas retailers are taking extra precautions: by replacing dispenser locks, using security tapes, and regularly checking their pumps among other precautions. Though he says the industry standard is not fool proof: banks have not mandated a PIN number be associated with credit cards (as with debit cards) like is done in Europe.
“Our understanding is as the banks, while they’re shifting the liability to the merchants, they aren’t able to process the chip and a PIN number at the same time in the United States,” said Griffin. “Their answer was just to shift the liability to the merchant banks. So we’re only partially being defended by the technology that could be used out there. Instead they’re only requiring part of it; that’s not the entire solution.”
Meanwhile, pending legislation in the Michigan House would require gas pumps also by next October to be more secure. House Bill 5797 would require only gas station owners to add customized security tape, a device to shut the pump down if improperly opened, payment encryption, or another approved measure to make pumps more secure. Griffin says he’s working with Rep. Ben Glardon, (R) – Owosso who introduced the bill, to include other retailers in addition to gas station owners.
Overall, he says it takes all eyes to stop this crime.
“By working together we can all try to stop this and throw these crooks out of Michigan.”
Meanwhile, industry standards required indoor retailers to install chip readers by October 2015. As skimmers are found, they are handed over to the FBI to investigate. If you notice anything suspicious at the gas pump, you are asked to report it immediately to the gas station and/or police.