PRINCETON, N.J. - Police in Camarillo, Calif., are taking a different approach to preventing card skimming at the pump: enlisting the help of civilians.
BankInfoSecurity.com reports that the Citizen Patrol Unit, some 30 volunteers who have been tasked with monitoring fuel dispensers throughout Camarillo, are looking for signs of tampering and illegal skimming devices.
Identity theft expert Robert Siciliano told the news source that such grassroots efforts are helpful, but that more anti-skimming effort is needed.
"Feet [and eyes] on the ground is a temporary solution," he said, adding, "But it's not what's needed to prevent skimming. If the banks or station owners just employed their own [staff] to pay attention, volunteers wouldn't be needed."
The solution, according to Siciliano, begins at the manufacturing level, noting that pump dispensers need more built-in security. The first step, he told the news source, relies on universal keys for access to self-service gas enclosures. And the second step, he says, is more regulatory oversight of the motor fuels industry €" which, by the way, NACS does not agree with.
"As long as they are up to Payment Card Industry standards for data security, they are doing their job," he told the news source, adding, "But to make sure they are meeting those standards, we need to get laws passed and regulators onboard to make sure [merchants] are securing their pumps. We need to get the financial industry to pay attention to all of that, too. At this point, it may not be worth it for them to put too much pressure on these retailers. That is something we have to look at."
So far, Siciliano says that most U.S. remedies to prevent card skimming are just band-aids, and that the real problem is our country€™s reliance on the magnetic stripe. "With EMV rolling in Canada and Mexico, we are sitting ducks in the U.S.," he told the news source.
Meanwhile, grassroots efforts by local communities to fight card skimming could have some benefits, suggested John Buzzard of FICO€™s Card Alert Services, but it€™s also a tactic that comes with a few concerns.
"I think I would have some concerns about the level of expertise of a citizens' patrol," Buzzard told the news source, adding, "It's admirable that the community is coming together and working together and seeing that they have a problem."
He also warns that communities should watch for stepping "too far outside the box" when combatting card skimming.
"Are these civilians being trained? Are they aware of how the skimming happens? And are the police ensuring they don't put retailers and consumers in dangerous situations? ... Back in the day, skimming attacks oftentimes involved an employee who was in on the scheme. That's why it's important for banks not to let consumers know where the point of compromise occurred. The last thing you want to do is put a consumer at risk," he told the news source, if that consumer were to take a complaint directly to the retailer.
The WeCare decal€¨is a tamper-evident label that can help retailers identify potential security breaches if skimming devices are inserted at fuel dispensers or other unattended PIN-entry devices. The labels can also help retailers address some of the PCI compliance mandates that are now required.
The security labels are to be used on fuel dispensers near the credit/debit card transaction area. If the label is lifted to insert a skimming device, a "void" message appears on the label, providing a visual alert to store employees so that additional action can be taken. Because the labels clearly indicate that they are to prevent tampering, the labels help assure customers that their data is secure, and discourage criminals targeting the store.
Protect your business and your customers €" order the WeCare decals for your stores today.
NACS also has a fact sheet that examines retailer concerns about card skimming.