Seeing Madison’s success, lawmaker announces bill to crack down on card skimming devices

Seeing Madison’s success, lawmaker announces bill to crack down on card skimming devices

A new proposal at the Capitol aims to crack down on identity theft. It copies a Madison ordinance that tried to stop criminals using credit card skimmers from stealing credit card information while people pumped gas.

The Madison Common Council passed the ordinance after at least a dozen skimmers were found on gas pumps across the city last summer and fall. The problem is that many pumps are made by the same manufacturer and use a universal key. Under the ordinance, gas station owners were required to install unique locks on their pumps that only they had the key for.

“Security is the biggest thing, knowing that you’re the only one that can get in. The tool that was used to get into [pumps] was available at hardware stores,” Mike Seversin, owner of Seversin’s Service Center on Madison’s east side, said.

Madison Weights and Measures inspectors said since the ordinance passed, they only know of one case where a skimmer was installed. The pump was fitted with a unique lock, but it was broken to install the skimmer.

Impressed by Madison’s success, one lawmaker wants to make this a state law. Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, announced the legislation on Tuesday after hearing reports of card skimming in the Green Bay area. It would require unique locks on all gas pumps, and anyone not in compliance would face a penalty.

“There is a simple common sense solution to stopping or drastically reducing the risk of card skimming at gas pumps. That is to require all gas station owners to use unique locks and keys on each of their pumps,” Hansen said.

Under Madison’s ordinance, gas station owners were required to pay for the locks out of pocket. Seversin said it cost him about $30 per pump. Hansen said the cost of updating these locks is relatively inexpensive compared to the financial cost to consumers whose financial information is stolen at the pump.

Earlier in the legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill increasing penalties for people convicted of card skimming, but Hansen wants to take it a step further.

“It makes more sense to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place so consumers are protected and taxpayer dollars aren’t spent on investigating, prosecuting and housing these criminals,” Hansen said.

Seversin started updating his locks even before Madison’s ordinance passed. He said most of his gas sales happen at the pump, and he wanted customers to feel comfortable filling up at his station.

“That’s the main reason I put the locks on, to make my customers feel at ease. I didn’t want feeling uncomfortable paying at the pump because 75 percent of my gas is pumped at pay at the pump,” Seversin said.

Hansen is now circulating the bill looking for support and co-sponsors. He’ll introduce it within the next week or so.