Protect Your Sites Before the Wolves Arrive

This is not an article about the Outdoor EMV liability shift for gas stations.  It is not about how all the major card brands announced they are pushing back the compliance date until mid-April 2021.  This is an article reminding you that no matter when the liability shift finally happens, if you have financial responsibility for transactions at the pump, you better not be the last one to the party, regardless of the geography in which you operate.

Imagine for a moment that gas stations are sheep, and fraudsters are a pack of wolves.  When the liability shift happens, the wolves will begin picking off sheep.  It will start with the sheep that are not standing under well-lit canopies, or whose shepherds are too busy playing Candy Crush to look up and see what is happening.  As the herd thins, the wolves will get bolder and attack sheep they previously avoided, simply because they can.

What about those places where there are no wolves today?  Maybe a stray dog here and there, but nothing that does real damage.  The wolves will come.  They will run out of sheep in Miami and Houston and Los Angeles and soon they will pop up in Boise and Canton and Des Moines.  A wolf is a wolf and you cannot make it any other thing.

What should you do as a gas station operator to avoid these wolves?

  • Understand what your fraud liability is today, even if it is not hitting your books.  This information is critical in understanding how vulnerable your site(s) may be following the liability shift.  While a site at $0 today can be hit by a fraud ring tomorrow, at least know if your site is already being targeted by criminals.
  • Determine what you need to do now before you potentially make major investments.  Think of it like shopping for a car before your current one breaks down.  You would want to know if there is a new model coming out or if the current model may not have the features you will need in 2021 and beyond.  The same is true for point-of-sale hardware, software, and other related equipment required to support Outdoor EMV.  Your certified technician and point-of-sale vendor are great resources, as can be your fuel distributor or fuel brand representative.
  • Assess your local competition.  If those stations are operated by large retailers who keep up with technology developments, or have enabled EMV at the pump already, this should motivate you to move more quickly.  Those stations are sheep the wolves cannot go after, leaving your sites as the remaining targets.

For further conversation about making the right business decisions for your company related to Outdoor EMV conversion, contact Zach Pastko at zpastko@wcapra.com.