How to Protect Yourself at the Pump This Holiday Season
According to Crime Prevention Security Systems, “Police reports indicate theft and property crime rates increase during the holiday season – particularly between Thanksgiving and the new year. Consumers generally walk around with more cash, credit cards, and gift cards in their wallets during this time of the year – rendering them as prime targets for criminals. But a different kind of theft begins to ramp up during the holidays as well – theft at the pump. The California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA) regularly releases industry-wide statements regarding fraudulent activity at Cardlock terminals across the state – a seemingly ever-increasing trend, which requires us to all be vigilant when using CFN facilities to maintain holiday fraud prevention. As we begin to move into the holiday season, it is a good idea to bring more a heightened awareness to paying at the pump, as thieves begin to ramp up their efforts to scam, skim and shim card information.
Common Pump-Related Theft
Without surveillance cameras or appropriate lighting, unattended Cardlock facilities are especially vulnerable to equipment tampering. Card reader dispenser fuel pump systems, also known as CRIND systems are common targets, where thieves will break into a card reader using a crowbar or screw driver to install a skimmer, a dummy lock, a shimmer, fake signage and small cameras to record personal identification information. This gives a thief free rein to wreak havoc on your finances, where not only can you lose significant amounts of money, but the integrity and security of your data can also be compromised. Recovering from such a breach is not easy, and often requires an excessive amount of time and energy to ensure that your accounts are secure and back online. In short, fraud of this kind is a hassle, and it is something that you and your organization would do best to avoid at all cost holiday fraud prevention measures.
The Usual Suspects
As we grow ever more dependent upon technology, thieves and organized crime leaders become more sophisticated in their exploitative approaches. Below are the key things to watch out for in terms of holiday fraud prevention this season:
Skimmers – Skimmers are nearly imperceptible card readers that are installed within or are externally mounted to an existing payment interface. They give thieves the ability to obtain credit card information with each swipe of a card through the payment terminal. They may then use this private information to produce cloned cards and to hack into bank accounts to steal money and make additional fraudulent purchases. Small cameras are sometimes installed nearby to capture personal identification numbers entered onto the PIN pad.
Shimmers – Shimmers are installed on the inside of a payment terminal to capture information from EMV chip cards (smart card technology). Completely invisible from the outside, shimmers are small, narrow card reading devices that extract data directly from an EMV chip.
Wanding – Wands are radio frequency identification readers, otherwise known as RFID. They are able to read data from a CFN card when waved over wallets, purses or pockets and the scanning technology is the same as what you find in most retail stores. Easily concealed and relatively inexpensive to produce, wands have become increasingly more common to extract credit card information such as credit card numbers and card expiration dates. Holding the wand just 4 inches from your card, a thief can easily steal your information and use it to make fraudulent purchases, especially online. Although designed to provide more ease for the consumer, RFID technology has proven to be easily exploited by criminals. Protect your RFID cards by placing them in specially designed sleeves or wrap them in tinfoil.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Best Practices
Never Use an ATM or Debit Card at the Pump – For CFN cards and regular credit cards with credit limits, paying at the pump is safer than using a personal or business ATM/debit card. Credit card and CFN card charges are processed differently than ATM cards and carry different levels of protection and fraud prevention parameters. According to a CreditCards.com article, “(Skimmers and shimmers) are being found at small merchants, large merchants, urban, rural, new and old convenience stores, so nobody is exempt. Gas stations now have until October 2020 to update their payment systems to be EMV compliant, meaning skimmer fraud will remain a threat (until then). For now, take a good look at the machine or card reader the next time you use a (pay at the pump terminal). Does the machine fit together well or does something look off, different or like it doesn’t quite belong? Make sure it doesn’t look like it’s been tampered with.” If you see something out of the ordinary, report it by calling the number on the back of your card or the number posted on the payment terminal. Do not proceed with the transaction until you have confirmed the security of the site.
Get Clear About Your Fuel Needs – Set security parameters on your fleet to alert you about abnormal activity. Internal theft is real, so make sure that every one of your drivers is clear about what they are allowed to pump and in what specific quantities, preventing them from using their CFN card in lieu of a personal credit card. By placing restrictions on cards, you can maintain full transparency on what is being purchased, by whom and in what quantities.
Understand Your Purchasing and Usage Patterns – Get clear about your fleet’s purchasing and usage patterns and make sure your team is all on the same page. Set max purchasing levels to an amount that correlates to your specific needs in volume for a day, a week, etc. You can set limits based on gallons per transaction, gallons per week, number of transactions per day, by limiting the allowable hours of operation (example: 8am to 5pm), and by setting geographic zones or zip code limitations. If activity falls outside of the parameters you set, a security alert is then triggered.
The Bottom Line
Enjoy this holiday season, but stay alert. Unfortunately thieves are on the move, taking advantage of the flurry of increased commerce, looking to capitalize on consumers who miss the signs and signals of something amiss. By understanding that statistically, fraudulent activity and crime escalates during the holiday season, and by knowing what to look for at the pump, you can enhance holiday fraud prevention and avoid being taken advantage of.
Contact an SCL Consultant Today
In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of industry trends and technological innovations, and as the market continues to evolve, we are committed to providing extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For information on how we can assist your fleet in choosing the optimal products at a competitive price, contact an SCL consultant today.