Hess Alerts Florida Motorists About Skimming Threat

Says stations have been targeted; statement urges customers to review payments

Published in CSP Daily News

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- Hess Corp. has issued a statement to its southern Florida retail gasoline customers about credit-card and debit-card frauds at the pump at its Hess Express convenience stores, indicating that skimming devices have been found at several locations.

"In recent months, there have been attempts to steal credit and debit card numbers at service stations in South Florida using so-called 'skimmer' devices," the statement reads. "Criminals tamper with gas pumps and place devices into their internal mechanisms to try to illegally intercept and record customer credit and debit card information as the cards are swiped at the pump. Unfortunately, several Hess stations have been targeted by these illegal activities."

In mid-February, a manager at a Hess station in Brooksville, Fla., doing routine inspections found skimming devices placed within the pumps, apparently before data thieves were able to retrieve the compromised data, according to the local sheriff's office.

The statement continued, "As soon as we have found evidence of such attempts, we have notified law enforcement. To protect customers, we continue to intensify security measures to help prevent future incidents. We also continue to work with law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, as they pursue these criminals.

"We want to ensure that our customers are alerted to the possibility that their credit or debit card information may have been compromised. Below is a list of stations where we have uncovered evidence suggesting that customer credit or debit card information may have been compromised, together with the pumps affected and the dates and approximate times through which the card information may have been vulnerable, based on our knowledge to date.

"We believe the information at risk is the data contained on the magnetic strip on a payment card, which includes the customer’s name, account number and expiration date. We do not believe Social Security numbers are included on the magnetic strip. Hess does not store payment card account numbers on its systems, and these incidents did not involve hacking into Hess systems.

"While we cannot be sure whether any customers’ payment card information was actually obtained by perpetrators in any of these incidents, we urge customers who may have paid by credit or debit card at the specified stations and pumps listed below in the days immediately prior to the time and date noted to carefully review credit and debit card statements for unauthorized charges or debits and immediately report any suspicious ones to the card issuer, be on the lookout for any calls or letters from retailers or creditors regarding merchandise or services not ordered and report any missing credit and debit card statements to the card issuer immediately.

"Customers can also contact their card issuer to alert them that their information may have been vulnerable so the card issuer can be vigilant in monitoring for any unusual charges.

"We have set up a customer information line (1-866-849-2790) to answer any questions customers may have. Hess will also provide, free of charge, AllClear ID’s Identity Repair service to any customers who suspect there may be fraudulent activity on their payment card account as a result of paying at one of the pumps listed in the days leading up to the date and time indicated. This service will help customers address any issues of fraud on their accounts. More information is available through the customer information line."

Our customers and their protection is our priority. We regret any inconvenience that this criminal activity may have caused any of our customers."

The statement lists 16 stations, with dates ranging from Feb. 20 to April 10, 2014. The stations are in West Palm Beach (3 stations), Largo, Palm Harbor (2), Lake Worth, Delray Beach, Clearwater (2), Holiday, Jensen Beach, Margate, Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, Pompano and Fort Myers.

New York City-based Hess is a leading independent gasoline and convenience store marketer on the East Coast, with approximately 1,350 branded sites in 16 East Coast states from New Hampshire to Florida.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers