Pay-at-the-Pump Skimming: ‘Epidemic’

POSTED: AUG 18, 2011
August 12, 2011 – Tracy Kitten, Managing Editor

From Florida to Texas, more reports of pay-at-the-pump card-skimming scams are pouring in to law enforcement agencies.
On Wednesday, the National Association of Convenience Stores, better known as NACS, issued a statement about skimming trends in Tampa, Fla., saying the theft of debit and credit card numbers at pay-at-the-pump gas terminals has become nearly epidemic. And on Thursday, a detective with the Euless, Texas, Police Department said a months-long investigation into skimming at gas pumps throughout northern Texas has finally come to a close, after local authorities arrested and charged a 51-year-old fraudster for his role in masterminding the scheme.

Back in Florida, police in Hillsborough County have reportedly confiscated four skimming devices from Tampa-area RaceTrac stores this year alone. Again, as has been the case in previous pay-at-the-pump attacks, the fraudsters installed skimming devices inside terminal enclosures, making them undetectable to passers-by. [See More Pay-at-the-Pump Skimming.]

RaceTrac says it has implemented changes that prevent master keys from opening all of its gas-pumps, and the chain adds that it is consistently working with financial institutions and law enforcement to update security measures and systems that can quickly detect suspected card fraud.

Gray Taylor, a security and compliance expert at NACS, says if RaceTrac, a convenience store chain known for its high level of security, could fall victim to a skimming scheme, any operator could be hit.

“RaceTrac is one of those operators that takes security pretty seriously,” Taylor says. “They are one of the most forward-thinking in security. They were one of the first to be PCI compliant, and they aren’t afraid to spend money on security. I guess it just goes to show: You can do everything, but if you forget to change the keylocks on your dispensers, then you can be breached. I’ve just got to believe this is a hole in their security approach.”

Pay-at-the-pump skimming is a well-known problem in Florida, where criminals target summer travelers along interstates and hot-spot destinations. Last year, police in Florida took their awareness campaign against skimming a step further, suggesting consumers avoid using pay-at-the-pump terminals all together and pay inside, with cash. [See Pay-at-the-Pump Card Fraud Revs Up and Pay-At-The-Pump Skimming – a Growing Threat.]

NACS Anti-Skimming Campaign

While pay-at-pump skimming incidents account for a relatively low percentage of card compromises, Taylor says, public awareness and media attention have fueled concerns. And there’s no doubt that the continued use of master keys for access to gas-pump enclosures remains an industry problem.
“There are 900,000 pay-at-the-pumps out there, and, literally, I have four keys in my desk that will open up every dispenser in the United States that has not been upgraded,” Taylor says. “Today, you can buy new dispensers that have unique keys. The problem is doing something with the dispensers that are out there; getting these guys to upgrade.”

But sometimes the considerations and barriers to ensuring pump enclosures have unique keys go beyond the convenience stores, reflecting a need for broader education initiatives.

“I’ve had operators come back to me to say their fire marshals are not allowing them to change the keys. The fire departments want one key that can open all of the enclosures,” Gray says. “I don’t know if that’s been the case in Jacksonville, Fla., but it has elsewhere. NACS can try to educate some of these guys, but it is a challenge. They don’t understand that you don’t need to open the dispenser to turn off the gas. But getting that across to some of these fire departments is challenging.”

NACS also is working to educate gas station operators about that master-key vulnerability, and through a recently launched security campaign that focuses on pay-at-the-pump skimming, Gray says NACS is making headway, albeit it slow. “We’re going to keep pressing, and that’s why we keep putting these skimming updates on our website,” he says. “You’ve got to get out there and learn how to fight this.”

In March, NACS launched the WeCare awareness campaign, which provides decals or tamper-evident labels that retailers can place over gas-pump enclosure access points or card readers. If a label is lifted to insert a skimming device, a “void” message appears on the label, providing a visual alert to store employees. The labels also help assure customers that their card data is secure, and discourage criminals. [See Skimming Concerns? Here’s What You Need to Know.]


New Location for Midwest Alarm Sioux City

POSTED: MAY 22, 2006
Midwest Alarm Company has relocated its Sioux City operations to a new location in downtown Sioux City, during the summer of 2006. The building located at 1104 6th Street will house all Sioux City sales, service and marketing personnel.

“This move underscores our commitment to our current and future customers in the Siouxland area. From this location we will be able to provide new levels of accessibility to our services,” said Larry McMillen, President, Midwest Alarm Company.


Midwest Alarm Unveils Dynamic New Website

POSTED: APR 15, 2006
After extensive planning and development, Midwest Alarm proudly announces the relaunch of The new site design features improved navigation and provides customers with access to valuable information regarding products and services.

“The site redesign reinforces our commitment to providing our customers with tools that will enhance the safety and security of their homes and businesses,” said Larry McMillen, President, Midwest Alarm Company.

New features include:

e-Link – Midwest Alarm is excited to offer customers a new online tool that can provide 24 hour a day, 7 day a week access to information in their security systems, through any internet accesible PC.

Customer Service Page – featuring Frequently Asked Questions, Frequently Asked Forms, and Contact Information for frequent requests.

Company News and RSS Feed – Customers can now access Midwest Alarm press releases, newsletters, and product information online. In addition, now supports RSS feeds for those customers looking for the latest company and industry news delivered directly to a PC.


Midwest Alarm Adds Fire Systems Specialists to Staff

POSTED: APR 11, 2006
Jim Drey has joined Midwest Alarm as a Fire Systems Installation and Sales Specialist. In this position, he will help coordinate the design, installation and sales of all fire systems.

Drey, a native of Iona, South Dakota, brings over 8 years of fire safety system experience to Midwest Alarm, with specialties in installation, service and maintenance. Prior to joining Midwest Alarm, Drey worked with Automatic Building Controls.

Chad Weber has joined Midwest Alarm as an Engineered Systems Technician. In this position, Weber will install fire and security protection solutions, throughout the region.

Weber, a native of Mitchell, South Dakota, comes to Midwest Alarm after 6 years with Automatic Building Controls.


Midwest Alarm Provides Bird’s Eye View for Hockey Team

POSTED: OCT 26, 2005
The Musketeers Staff, along with a few very supportive sponsors, have been hard at work helping make the off ice production for all Musketeer home games better with each game. On Saturday night (10/22/05), they put a microphone on a game night referee, Mike Elder was the first referee to use the microphone, and did an outstanding job in it’s use. “The USHL officiating staff was very supportive of our desire to help bring the fans closer the game.”

The Musketeers also have a 360 degree overhead PTZ camera above the center face off circle. Thanks to Tyler Solma at Midwest Alarm, we can literally see every seat and every portion of the ice with this fantastic camera. Currently it’s being used to support some of our promotions and to pan the rink during intermissions. The fans absolutely love it! During the game it brings a live overhead shot of each face-off, shots of the penalty boxes, team benches, and various other activities throughout the game. As we work to improve the use of this camera into our games, we’ll bring you live shots of the action during the game as well.


Midwest Alarm Company announces the acquisition of A&M Radio security services.

POSTED: OCT 11, 2005
As of September 1, 2005, Midwest Alarm Company based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has purchased the alarm accounts of A&M Radio of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Midwest Alarm will now be responsible for maintaining the alarm receiving equipment in the Brown County 911 Center. Midwest Alarm will also be responsible for new alarm connections and the maintenance of existing alarm customer emergency call out lists for accounts in Aberdeen and Brookings.

Midwest Alarm has hired Ron Bolduan, a 35 year veteran of A&M Radio, as their representative in Aberdeen and Brookings. Ron can be contacted at 800-303-1709.

“We are committed to continuing the personalized customer service that A&M Radio customers have come to expect, while also providing the community with access to the latest technologies to protect their homes and businesses”, says Larry McMillen, President, Midwest Alarm Company.

Founded in 1967, Midwest Alarm is a genuine South Dakota success story that has grown into one of the top alarm companies in the nation. Midwest Alarm designs, installs, monitors and services security solutions in homes and businesses throughout the region. Midwest Alarm provides thousands of clients with the most advanced burglar and fire alarm systems, closed circuit TV, access control, process and environmental monitoring systems.


Midwest Alarm Company Technician Assisting in Hurricane Relief Efforts

POSTED: SEP 12, 2005
Midwest Alarm Company Senior Service Technician, Herman ‘Corky’ Jenkins has recently returned from serving as part of a chainsaw crew that assisted with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Mississippi. The Northwest Iowa based crew is helping to remove trees that are covering homes and blocking driveways in Gulfport and Long Beach, Mississippi.


Midwest Alarm hosts Pelco Mobile Product Showcase

POSTED: JUL 18, 2005
SIOUX FALLS, SD. On July 18th & 19th, Midwest Alarm Company hosted the Pelco Mobile Product Showcase at its Sioux City and Sioux Falls offices. The events provided great opportunities for key Midwest Alarm clients to get a first hand look at the latest in Pelco technology. Pelco is a world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of video security systems and equipment. The Mobile Product Showcase is a cross-country, traveling mini-Pelco on wheels. Staffed by experts in video security, the MPS is always on the move – visiting end users, dealers, distributors, integrators, consultants and government entities across the nation. Producing a large selection of discreet camera domes and enclosures, cameras, next generation DVRs, video matrix systems, hybrid and IP solutions, fiber optic transmission systems for voice/data – and much more – a visit to the MPS offers everyone the opportunity to see and – more importantly – to experience for themselves, the power and functionality of Pelco’s video security solutions. For more information about the Pelco Mobile Product Showcase – please visit its Web site at

Founded in 1967, Midwest Alarm designs, installs, monitors and services security solutions in homes and businesses throughout Siouxland. Midwest Alarm provides thousands of area clients with the most advanced burglar and fire alarms, closed circuit TV, access control, process and environmental monitoring systems. For more information about Midwest Alarm – please visit