New Mexico Department of Agriculture staff works with law enforcement on gas-pump skimming cases


For immediate release

Feb. 7, 2018
Media Contact:
Kristie Garcia, Public Information Officer,
New Mexico Department of Agriculture
575-646-2804, krgarcia@nmda.nmsu.edu

New Mexico Department of Agriculture staff works with law enforcement on gas-pump skimming cases

(Las Cruces, New Mexico) – Have you ever used a credit or debit card to purchase gasoline at the pump? If so, you may want to brush up on your knowledge about skimmer devices. Learn how to protect yourself from having your card information stolen.

When you pay at the pump, there’s a possibility for thieves to steal your credit card information using skimmers. Thieves attach skimming devices to the card scanner. The devices capture the account data from cards used to purchase gas without interfering with the purchase. In petroleum dispensers, the devices are often attached directly to a circuit board. They may be placed on the card reader on the inside of the dispenser. The cardholder is unaware that the data has been compromised until it has been used to make unauthorized purchases.

What does skimming have to do with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA)?

Not only does NMDA support the viability of agriculture and support the beneficial use of natural resources. It also promotes food protection and global marketing. However, a big part of its responsibility is consumer protection and regulatory compliance.

The NMDA Standards and Consumer Services Division (SCS) is responsible for enforcing New Mexico’s weights and measures laws and regulations. Petroleum and fuel pumps fall into this category. The petroleum standards program is responsible for the annual inspection and testing of all commercial petroleum measuring devices. These devices are used in the state as well as ensuring product quality. This is for gasoline, diesel, kerosene, brake fluid, antifreeze and lubricating oil. Precise field standards are used in these inspections and are certified through the division’s metrology laboratory.

NMDA’s petroleum laboratory analyzes all petroleum product samples collected by field staff. This checks for compliance with quality standards established in the Petroleum Products Standards Act.

Inspectors collect petroleum samples for testing or inspecting pumps to ensure they are dispensing the correct fuel quantity. They may come across a skimmer device. Consumer protection is part of the NMDA’s mission, and SCS staff works closely with law enforcement regarding this issue.

In January, NMDA staff attended a training that focused on the latest credit card skimmer detection and enforcement practices. This was for in the state of Florida where the illegal activity is extremely prominent. Part of the National Conference on Weights and Measures interim meeting, the training included technical presentations and discussions. This is addition to demonstrations at actual retail businesses in the area.

As a consumer, the following steps may help protect yourself from being a victim of skimming at the fuel pump:
•  Pull on the credit card reader to ensure it is permanent
•  Check for audit tape to ensure no one has tampered with the dispenser
•  Choose a fuel pump that’s in the cashier’s sight
•  Go inside and pay with cash

If you discover a credit card skimmer at the pump, report it to authorities and the store manager. To report identify theft, call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338 or visit www.identitytheft.gov.

New Mexico fuel retailers should contact NMDA SCS staff at 575-646-1616 immediately after a skimmer is found. SCS also provides information to retailers and repair establishments regarding steps to take if a skimmer is discovered.

For more information about NMDA, visit www.nmda.nmsu.edu. Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/NMDeptAg and follow us on Twitter @NMDeptAg.

– NMDA –