Single Store Owner

OCT 2016

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OPERATIONS 44 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / OCTOBER 2016 Store Ops / Labor / HR / Real Estate / Financial / Field Ops Danger: Skimming As criminals get more sophisticated, single-store owners must heighten their defenses BY BRIAN BERK Skimming is such a big concern that Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus, a nonprofit, member-driven technology organization, has called skimming one of the convenience and fuel retailing industry's two biggest concerns and "something that must be fixed." Conexxus is dedicated to the devel- opment and implementation of standards, technolo- gies, innovation and advocacy for the convenience store and petroleum market. At the Conexxus Annual Conference in May, Tay- lor revealed skimming is so worrisome that he spoke to the U.S. Secret Service about the problem. "They feel we haven't done anything [to fix the problem]," he said. "We spent an hour and a half showing them we did." WHY ALL THE ATTENTION NOW? Skimming is certainly not a new phenomenon. In fact, Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner has reported on this problem dating all the way back to 2010. So, why has skimming reached a near-crisis level in the past 12 to 18 months? Christopher Ingram, attorney at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP and an expert in the field of skimming, believes it's because things have changed over the past few years making these illegal devices even more dangerous. "Skimmers are not new. Retailers have had to guard against skimming for several years now. However, in the context of unattended points of sale like fuel dispensers, we're seeing a perfect storm for skimming," Ingram told Single Store Owner. "Now, with advances in technology, it is no longer difficult to obtain the technology needed to build a skimming device online. "Additionally, with the recent push to upgrade PIN pads inside stores to accept EMV chips, these new PIN pads generally contain improve- ments that thwart skimming. As a result, the older technology in fuel dispensers has become the low hanging fruit for cyberthieves," he added. Criminals are definitely getting more advanced when it comes to skimming. Chris Warren, a police sergeant in Marana, Ariz., told one local news outlet: "What we're seeing is they are actually opening up the pumps themselves and putting their devices on W ith many expenses eating away at the bottom line for single-store owners, it can be difficult to find spare cash to invest in anything that will not directly boost the bottom line. However, skimming continues to be a problem — an increasing problem, at that — and single- store operators who do not invest in anti-skimming efforts, as well as more expensive EMV upgrades, could find themselves the prime target for thieves. It is unlikely that many daily newspaper readers went this past year without seeing at least one story headline involving a skimming incident. Skimming entails criminals inserting an illegal device to cap- ture customer credit card and debit card informa- tion at the pump or ATM. Several convenience store chains have been hit by this bug at the pump, including Casey's General Stores Inc., Par Mar Oil Co., Circle K Stores Inc., Virginia's Speedy's Mart, and 7-Eleven franchised locations, to name just a few. Statewide sweeps likewise have uncovered plenty of skimming devices at the pump, including 103 devices found at Florida c-stores across 29 counties last year, and six devices found in New York State earlier this year. Even more recently, the Arizona At- torney General's Office conducted an investigation Aug. 1-12 that turned up 12 skimmers at the pump — this compared to 11 skimmers the office found during the entire year of 2015.

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