- Associated Press - Sunday, May 4, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - New training has helped stave off identity thieves at gas stations across Arizona, state regulators said Sunday.

The Arizona Department of Weights & Measures says inspectors at fuel stations are adding “skimmer check” to their list of duties, the Arizona Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1s7pqsL).

“The real telltale sign is, we’re out checking gas pumps every single day, and we’re just not finding them,” department spokesman Shawn Marquez said.

In recent years, scammers have used illegal card-reading devices called “skimmers” to obtain personal information when people swipe debit and credit cards to pay for gas.

In 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer directed regulators to train inspectors on how to spot the skimmers, which can be well hidden in pumps.

Marquez said there has been a noticeable drop in calls from fraud-prevention and credit companies, banks and other institutions about identity thefts related to gas stations.

According to the agency, only two skimmers were found last year among 1,349 gas-pump inspections statewide. In contrast, 13 were discovered in 2012 and 30 in 2010. About 426 locations have been checked so far this year and no skimmers have been found, officials said.

The Weights & Measures department has also been working with the gasoline industry and gas stations since the new procedures began. In 2010, the department held training on skimmer security for stations, law enforcement and representatives from a petroleum marketers association. Gas stations were advised to take precautions such as repositioning security cameras and using tamper-proof, invisible tape to block gas-pump compartments.

“That’s really what it’s about - protecting consumers,” said Amanda Gray, executive director of the Arizona Petroleum Marketers Association. “It’s a problem for everybody once skimmers get installed.”

In 2011, the department started sending out electronic-notification alerts to gas stations and law enforcement about any skimming incidents.

Marquez said the decline in reported skimmer use doesn’t mean inspectors will sit back and relax their efforts.

“The decrease only means we have to keep our efforts up,” he said. “We’re going to continue to do this. … We won’t let our guard down.”


Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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