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Credit Card Skimmers

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Protect Your Station from Credit Card Skimmers

The Minnesota Department of Commerce wants to help service station operators protect their customers from credit card skimmers. 

Skimmers are electronic devices which steal credit card information from card readers on gas pumps and ATMs. Criminals have been breaking into dispenser cabinets across the country to install these devices and secretly record credit card information. Often, a criminal can use wireless technology to download the stolen information to a laptop.

The best way to protect your customers is to implement a program that deters criminals from installing skimmers, detects skimmers if they have been installed and trains your employees how to respond when they find suspicious devices.

Deter Installation of Skimmers

The best way to deter criminals from installing skimmers on your pumps is to make it hard to get into the dispenser cabinets – and to let them know that there is a good chance they will get caught if they try.

Detect the Installation of Skimmers

Know how to recognize skimmers.

Train your employees to know what the insides of your dispensers are supposed to look like.  

All credit card readers have a small computer board at the back with a 7-pin connector. A communication cable connects from that 7-pin connector to a larger computer board inside the dispenser. The cable is the only thing that should connect to the 7-pin connectors on each board.  

Criminals rarely install more than one or two skimmers at any location, so any dispenser with inside equipment that looks different from the others might be compromised.  

Skimmers don’t all look alike.  Some can look like home-made bundles of duct tape, electrical tape, watch batteries and computer wire. Others can be so sophisticated they look like real components of the dispenser. Regardless of how they look, they all must copy the credit card signal at one of four places near the reader.  Make sure to check all four places every day.

Check for skimmers on every dispenser every day.  

It takes an average of 10 seconds for a criminal to break into a dispenser and install a skimmer.  Just because you found no skimmers yesterday doesn’t mean they weren’t installed overnight.  Make checking for skimmers a regular daily duty. Design your internal inspection program in a way that triggers an alert to upper management if the daily inspection does not get done.

Suspect anything that is unusual or does not match the other dispensers.

Criminals are constantly designing new devices and ways to steal information. Suspect anything that looks unusual.  When in doubt, shut down the dispenser and consult your service company or contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Other vulnerable devices

Gas pumps are not the only devices at risk of credit card skimmers. Thieves can install external skimmers in seconds on the credit card readers of your ATM machine or even on the credit card reader at the counter as shown in this video.

Protect your customers and business by checking every day for external skimmers on ATM machines and counter credit card readers. Use tamper tape on these credit card readers so that you can easily see if a skimmer has been placed over the reader.

Don’t forget your car wash! Credit card readers on car washes are vulnerable to both internal and external skimmers because the cabinets are easily opened. Use tamper tape to cover the card reader to detect an external skimmer. Also use tamper tape on the cabinet so you can see at a glance if it has been opened.

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