AUSTIN, Texas —Texas officials are no longer reporting at which fueling sites they have found skimming devices, thanks to a new state law that seeks to bolster skimming prevention while avoiding a potential loss of business at affected sites.
Previously, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) would publicly release the locations of where authorities had found skimmers. Retailers often criticized the practice because it could lead to a loss of business for weeks or months after the announcements.
“From their point of it, it was bad business to let people know that they'd been allowing skimmers in their pumps,” Sid Miller, commissioner of the TDA, told KPRC Click2Houston.
Senate Bill 2119, which passed in June, switched the Weights & Measures and Fuel Quality programs from the TDA to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
House Bill (HB) 2945, which also passed in June under the sponsorship of Rep. Mary Ann Perez and went into effect in September, mandates that the information relating to gas-station skimmers is confidential and not subject to disclosure.
H.B. 2945 also requires fueling sites that find skimmers to report them within 24 hours and implement best practices to reduce the risk of skimmers. It established civil penalties for merchants who find but fail to report a skimming device, do not take corrective action or interfere in inspections of up to $5,000. The legislation also authorized the attorney general to establish a payment card fraud center where law enforcement agencies can plan and coordinate actions around payment card fraud, including skimmers.
"This is a problem that Texas will take the lead on and become a model for other states,” Perez said at the time. “I appreciate the stakeholders coming together on this issue, but more importantly, the overwhelming support I have received from the Texas House of Representatives. I am proud that we, together as a body, will combat credit-card skimming at gas pumps in Texas."
Perez’s representatives told KPRC that the privacy measure was added to H.B. 2945 to gain the support of the Texas Food & Fuel Association. State investigators had also reportedly been concerned that broadcasting skimmer locations was discouraging self-reporting by gas-station owners, who may have been afraid of losing business.