For Immediate Release - March 01, 2016

State Urging Local Weights & Measures Officials to Increase Inspections for Gas Pump Skimmers

Division of Banks also issues industry letter on ATM vulnerabilities to card skimming devices

 Boston, MA (March 1, 2016) – The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is taking further steps within its jurisdiction to detect and minimize credit and debit card skimming at gas pumps and now ATMs.

Tomorrow, approximately 100 local weights and measures officials, whose work parallels that of the state Division of Standards, will meet in Mansfield (Holiday Inn, 9:30 am) for a seminar on gas pump security and skimming detection.

“These local inspectors will be asked by Division of Standards Director Charles Carroll to go back into their jurisdictions following our seminar and inspect service stations for skimmers and report back to the Division of Standards,” said John Chapman, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. “If we really blanket the state with spot inspections, we can get a truer sense of just how prevalent this crime is at this point in time.” 

Since before the end of January, service station personnel or state Standards inspectors have made skimmer discoveries at service stations in Bedford, Braintree, Bridgewater, Hingham, Westwood, and Quincy. 

On the heels of three recent ATM skimming discoveries at Cumberland Farms stores in Attleboro and Walpole, the Division of Banks has issued an industry letter to all state-chartered banks and credit unions that it licenses raising awareness about an increase in ATM card skimming fraud.

ATM card skimming usually involves the attachment of electronic devices on or around an ATM to illegally collect data from the magnetic strip of the card, while hidden cameras are also installed to capture the PIN entered by the customer. Devices vary in design, size, and shape, but look similar to legitimate devices, and continue to evolve to avoid detection. 

 “Given the serious financial harm and inconvenience that results from skimming attacks, the Division is urging institutions to take a fresh look at how they are managing this risk, and this includes ATMs that are remote from bank branches,” said David Cotney, Commissioner of Banks. “The Division recommends that financial institutions, at a minimum, include ATM security in their risk assessments.”

          Other recommendations to financial institutions from the state banking regulator include:

Monitor your ATMs. Be vigilant of any unusual activity. Assess existing controls to prevent and detect skimming, including ATMs located off bank premises. Consider implementing enhanced physical security controls such as locks and additional video cameras. Monitor ATM transaction activity for unusual behavior or withdrawal attempts that go beyond normal daily limits.

Test controls regularly. Test the effectiveness of both physical and logical controls periodically to ensure they are functioning as expected.

Conduct information security awareness and training. Include descriptions of various skimming equipment, how frequently employees should check ATMs for skimming devices, and how they can identify and prevent successful card skimming attacks.

Test incident response plans. Make sure employees and third-party processors understand their respective responsibilities in the event of a skimming attack, including proper notification protocols.

 The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has also reached out to the New England Convenience Store Association in recognition of the thousands of convenience stores across New England that offer both ATM and gasoline services and who could be particularly vulnerable.

 “Most of the ATMs found in convenience stores are not affiliated with state-chartered banks, but rather national banks that are not regulated by our state banking regulator,” added Undersecretary Chapman. “Because of this, we are urging convenience store owners and chain owners to reach-out to these banks and ask what security protocols are in place for those who regularly service these ATMs.” 

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the office at its blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter @Mass Consumer.