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At the NACS show earlier this month, convenience store operators from all over the country shared some spooky stories about mysterious phone calls and creepy encounters. These weren’t Tales from the Crypt, though, they were real-life examples of convenience stores falling victim to skimming fraud and phone scams.

Scare Tactics

The convenience store industry has long been a target for criminals. You’re already training your staff to stay safe from obvious risks such as robbery and theft, but what about more sneaky ways your store is at risk? Credit card skimming and phone scams can also be scary for your business.

Skimming Fraud at Convenience Stores

Skimming is a form of credit card theft where criminals attach electronic devices on fuel pumps, ATMs, self-checkout kiosks, and other point-of-sale units. These devices are difficult to spot, and can sometimes even be installed on the inside of machines.

Like any form of credit card fraud, skimming prevention starts with training. Here are some basic anti-skimming best practices:

  • Keep skimming targets in direct line of sight.
  • Be familiar with the features of your machines so you can easily spot tampering attempts.
  • Follow procedures to regularly inspect fuel pumps, ATMs, and other payment devices.
  • Investigate abnormally high levels of bad card reads or “dispenser offline” messages.
  • Report suspicious behavior, such as vehicles parked at a fuel island for long periods of time or people loitering around A-T-Ms.
  • Verify the validity of all service technicians who come to work on payment machines.

Phone Scams Targeting Convenience Stores

Like credit card skimming, thieves target convenience stores with phone scams because they’re looking for easy targets. If they don’t find one at your store, they’ll move on. To avoid falling victim to phone scams, train your staff to follow strict phone protocols. Phone scammers often claim to be from a prepaid card company, a utility, a vendor, or even someone from higher up in your own company. Scammers are master manipulators who trick employees into revealing sensitive information. You can train your employees to avoid phone scams by following these guidelines:

  • Never give out any pre-paid card information, PIN numbers, or passwords. Legitimate vendors or technicians will never ask for this type of information over the phone.
  • Never discuss company business with anyone over the phone.
  • Refer all requests for refunds, technical support, or utility payments to a manager.
  • Ask to take a message for a manager if you’re unsure of a caller’s intent. Scammers won’t leave a message, and legitimate callers will be happy to do so.

Is the Call Coming from Inside the House?

Skimming thieves and phone scammers are brazen, devious, and very convincing. They’ll do whatever it takes to pull off their scam, including asking for help from inside your convenience store. Criminal organizations have been known to recruit employees who have access to card processing machines or pre-paid cards. Make sure all employees know that participating at any level in the theft of card information is a serious criminal offense with life-altering consequences.

Skimming Prevention Training

Criminals are targeting your customers and your store. Click here to train your staff to detect and prevent credit card skimming at your location.