homepage logo

Cape Council approves ‘skimmer’ ordinance

By Staff | Mar 6, 2018

Credit card “skimming” at the pumps may become a little more difficult in Cape Coral.

Cape Coral City Council on Monday passed an ordinance requiring more safeguards at gas stations in the city.

The ordinance, presented by Police Chief David Newlan, will require a visible gas pump panel locking device that requires an access key unique to each gas station to restrict the unauthorized access of customer credit or debit card information.

That could mean something as simple as a lock and hasp, or the operator may install a device that renders the pump inoperable if there is unauthorized opening of the gas pump panel.

Whether the measures will actually make a major impact on “skimming” was subject to debate.

Chris Gilpin, owner of Signal Vault, a company that makes security products that protect consumers from high-tech crime, told City Council that he didn’t believe that an ordinance will cut it in the real world.

During public comment on the ordinance, Gilpin said the measure isn’t going to do much to solve the problem, that even if the CCPD found 16 skimmers in 13 months, there are likely many more they did not find.

“Skimmers in Florida have tripled in the last two years. I don’t think that locks are going to stop the crime. If the owners have the key, the employees need access to it and open the pumps if they need to,” Gilpin said. “This creates an opportunity for an inside job.”

Gilpin said the gas stations need to step up and do more for consumers and their security and that his system would stop those type of devices from being installed in the first place by alerting people inside that a skimmer was being installed.

Such a system would cost between $100 and $250 for installation and monitoring, which would start at $50 per month depending on the size of the station.

Council members agreed that with evolving technology, skimming is a difficult crime to control.

“This is high-tech crime. Someone can get a text of your credit card number before you’re finished pumping gas,” Councilmember Jennifer Nelson said.

City Manager John Szerlag suggested Council pass the ordinance, even if it does fall short, then talk about other defenses at a later date.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

As for consumers, Gilpin said the best thing they can do is bypass the convenience of paying at the pump and go inside and pay cash.

“Everything that is fast, easy and convenient for us is also the same for criminals. They’re counting on us to not inconvenience ourselves,” Gilpin said. “I go inside and pay because I know how big the problem is.”