AG unveils guidelines to deter "skimming" at the pump

CHARLESTON, WV (NEWS RELEASE) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has debuted a list of guidelines for convenience stores and gas stations regarding how consumers’ financial information can be protected at the pump.

The guidelines aim to reduce skimming, a type of identity theft in which individuals steal credit or debit card numbers when they use credit card machines at the pump.

The guidelines have national and state support from the West Virginia Oil & Marketers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores.

“I’m proud my office is taking action against the unlawful practice of skimming,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “In a matter of seconds, someone’s personal financial information can be stolen, so gas stations should be on the lookout for suspicious activity to protect consumers.”

Skimmers gather credit and debit card numbers with a special storage device used to process cards, as well as unauthorized cameras that allow thieves to see PIN numbers as customers enter them.

The storage devices skimmers use are placed inside the fuel dispenser or an overlay on top of the existing key pad and credit card reader.  These devices capture customers’ payment information.

“NACS applauds the Attorney General’s efforts to address so-called ‘skimming’ at West Virginia retail gasoline outlets, and we support the anti-skimming guide,” said Henry Armour, president and chief executive officer of NACS. “We support your guidelines as part of many efforts to address payment card security. They provide helpful techniques for fuel retailers to protect their fuel islands from skimming threats.”

Traci Nelson, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Marketers Association, recommends that its members “review and implement these procedures where possible.” The guidelines include these tips:

  • Replace the factory universal lock on gas pumps with a unique lock, keeping the key in a secure location.
  • Use tamper-evident security labels with serial numbers on each gas dispenser and ensure the seal is not broken when performing daily inspections.
  • Place a unique mark, perhaps with an ultraviolet (UV) security pen, on the card reader and keypad to aid the inspection process.
  • Ensure all pumps are monitored by security cameras and are well-lit.
  • Create a pump inspection checklist for staff and train staff to carefully inspect pumps at least once a day.
  • Maintain a log of each person who accessed the dispensers, including third parties that provide inspection and maintenance services.

Consumers who believe they may be victims of skimming at the gas pump can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at

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