A series of recently passed and enacted state laws could make it much harder for consumers to know when a credit skimmer is found at a gas station.
For years, the Texas Department of Agriculture has released warnings about gas stations where someone had attached a skimmer to steal credit card information, but new laws (HB2945 and SB2119) will limit who can get the reports.
“With the recent legislation changes, the regulation of fuel pumps is now being regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations (TDLR),” TDLR representative Mike Arismendez said.
The change prompted concern from consumers and state leaders.
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“If we find a skimmer, we can’t report it to anybody but the police. We can’t let the public know," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said in an interview with KPRC-TV.
TDLR representatives have now said that agencies may still be able to offer information to consumers.
“What happens is that law enforcement, if they so choose to release that information, they are at liberty to do so, but it's left up to the law enforcement agencies to do that,” Arismendez said.
“We are simply receiving information and using it as a repository and working with law enforcement agencies to be able to provide the information for the skimmers,” he added.
The University of North Texas Cyber Forensics Lab has studied credit card skimmers and is working with local law enforcement teams and spotting trends.
“They steal our number and it goes onto the dark web or it is sold down to specific areas,” said lab professor Scott Belshaw. “The fraud has been climbing and increasing so we have to take another approach and we have to do something about this because it is getting worse.”
Belshaw said few are immune from skimmer issue.
“I had one agency approach me one time and say ‘hey we found a skimmer in a gas pump would you mind taking a look at it,’” Belshaw said. “We were able to extract the data from it, find out who the victims were and it happened to be the chaplain of that local police department. His name was on there.”
Last week, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation revealed a new fuel pump sticker that will make it easier for consumers to report problems to the state.
Mike Arismendez, deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, said the sticker is Texas-shaped and contains information consumers can use to report suspected credit card skimmers or other issues at thousands of Texas fuel pumps, including gas quality or volume dispensed.