With credit-card skimming thieves eluding law enforcement, state lawmakers are targeting the devices themselves.

Two bills before the Florida Legislature this session, SB 766 and HB 343, would make it a third-degree felony to possess or sell credit-card skimming devices in Florida.

“These devices are designed to specifically collect and steal consumer data,” said the sponsor of the Senate bill, state Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-Miami. “There is no other place in the market where you need a device like this.”

Rodriguez said Thursday much of the work behind the legislation was focused on tightening the definition of the skimmer itself so it would not impede the needs of retailers and anyone else involved in credit-card transactions.

“There are two parts to this legislation,” he said. “Part of it is to precisely and better define what is legal and what is illegal. The other part is criminalizing the sale of and use. There is no legitimate need for these skimming devices.”

He added that cracking down on the installing and use of the skimmers to steal credit-card information from gasoline pump machines and ATMs, which is illegal, is difficult because police have to catch the thieves in the act.

By making the possession and sale of the devices illegal, he said police would have a more effective tool. Both the Senate and House versions have one more committee hurdles to clear, perhaps as soon as next week, before they can make it to floor votes in each chamber.

The 2017 Florida legislative session marks the second year in a row that lawmakers have sought legislation to attack credit-card skimming.

Just this past spring, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill designed to protect consumers from skimmers at gas station pumps.

That legislation, sponsored by State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, required gas stations to have security devices on pumps to combat skimmers and it toughened penalties for credit-card fraud.

It was also supported by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency has largely led the effort to crack down on skimmers.

James Miller of the Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association said the organizations “fully support any legislation that cracks down on gas-pump skimming devices, punishes those caught using them, and protects Floridians and visitors.”

Miller said card skimming is a nationwide problem, but Florida, with the third-largest population and more than 100 million tourists, and more than 10,000 convenience stores statewide, presents significantly more opportunities for skimming devices to be used.

He said the organization seeks other ways to combat skimming fraud. This includes training sessions for convenience store owners and their staff year round throughout the state to help them identify potential scams, and arm their employees with knowledge and steps they can take to protect their store, their merchandise and their customers.

They also regularly communicate with local, state and federal law enforcement “on tips and identifying new technology or new ways that thieves are using skimmers,” he added.

Jeff Lenard, the vice president for Strategic Industry Initiatives at the National Association of Convenience Stores in Alexandria, Va., said the organization focuses on federal issues so it has not specifically followed the new Florida legislation.

However, he pointed out skimming tends to a be a problem because criminal groups come to an area and “work it” until they move on to another location. Florida, he said, is one of the areas that has more problems, perhaps because there is more of a transient population and newer neighborhoods.

How to avoid falling victim to a skimmer, and what to do if you do

  • Pay inside the gas station in cash.
  • Check the gas pump cabinet to make sure it’s closed and that it hasn’t been tampered with. Look for security tape or a sticker, and see if it looks peeled or broken.
  • Use a pump closer to the front of the store. Putnam said skimmers often are placed at pumps farther away from where clerks can easily see someone tamper with them.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Most credit cards have better protection against most types of fraud, officials say. Plus, debit cards immediately withdraw money from your account. If you do use a debit card, choose to run it as a credit card so you don’t have to enter your PIN.

If you think your credit card number might have been stolen or otherwise compromised, report it to your credit card company.

If you believe you might have found a skimmer, contact the gas station manager, local law enforcement or the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 800-435-7352.

mypalmbeachpost | Antonio Fins and Susan Salisbury

Monday, 27 March 2017 14:52

C-Stores Confronting Theft

Organized retail crime (ORC)—defined as professional shoplifting by organized crime rings—is growing, with 83% of 59 merchants surveyed reporting an increase in the past year, according the National Retail Federation’s “12th annual ORC study,” conducted July 20-Aug. 19, 2016.

Sean Sportun, ICPS manager, security & loss prevention for Mac’s Convenience Stores in Canada, noted ORC is an evolving issue for the c-store industry.

While ORC usually targets big box chains with high volume items “what most fail to realize is the c-store/gas industry are the initial target for these groups when it comes to fraud payment cards and robberies,” Sportun said. “C-store retailers must ensure they have a training program in place and that it is current—this will enable employees to combat these crimes and remain safe if they encounter an incident.”

Mac’s is renowned for fighting crime, from inviting communities to take ownership of neighborhood convenience stores by participating in painting a store mural to posting images of thieves to Mac’s Crime Stoppers social media pages, so members of the community can identify them for a reward.

“Mac’s is now being studied by Harvard University on the crime prevention program’s effectiveness in reducing incidents of crime,” Sportun said. The Harvard Business Study should be available this summer.

Mac’s is also using a Tobacco Tracker program to monitor stolen tobacco cartons—a “huge success,” both in the recovery of assets and in the apprehensions of suspects. Security expert Chris McGoey, president of McGoey Security Consulting, said while ORC is an age-old issue, the label is often overused, especially in relation to convenience stores.

“What’s happening (at c-stores) is plain old shoplifting. It’s the same old story: if you have one person on duty and that person is overworked, they’re not going to be able to pay attention to potential shoplifters,” he said.

McGoey said he sees theft overall trending upward. There are more items today, more inventory issues to contend with and products are more expensive—which means theft dollar totals are higher—all contributing factors.

INTERNAL THEFT
C-stores must also contend with employee theft. The “28th Annual Retail Theft Survey” conducted June 2016 by loss prevention consulting firm Jack L. Hayes International, found one out of every 38 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2015. The survey was based on approximately 3 million employees.

“The convenience industry is hit particularly hard with employee theft because of the nature of a c-store. They’re designed to be operated by one person often times without supervision,” McGoey said.

Mac’s is using technology to help matters.

“The loss prevention department implemented a variety of preventative measures to identify this type of crime, but our most effective initiative has been the introduction of our 24/7 monitoring room, which has the ability to remote access into stores through the DVR system,” Sportun said.

While ongoing advancements in video surveillance ability and quality continue to improve, McGoey warned some retailers invest too much capital in technology and then fail to use it, thinking just having the technology is a deterrent. McGoey said sticking to the basics of counting inventory, implementing cash controls, hiring and training well and monitoring customers are crucial in preventing theft. (read more)

Within 10 years, online food shopping will reach maturity

Within a decade, in the current climate of technology adoption and evolution, consumer spend on online grocery shopping could reach $100 billion, or the equivalent of 3,900 grocery stores based on store volume.

That’s the conclusion of new research being released by the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen, which offered a preview of their “Digitally Engaged Food Shopper” analysis Saturday at the FMI Midwinter Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The findings were discussed by a panel that included Dave Bornmann, SVP of business development at Publix Super Markets; Benno Dorer, chairman and CEO of the Clorox Co.; Chris Morley, president of Nielsen USA; and Tom Furphy, CEO of Replenium. The discussion was moderated by Thom Blischok, chairman and CEO of The Dialogic Group.

The group stressed a need for greater collaboration between retailers and CPG suppliers, who need to operate “like one integrated company,” declared Mark Baum, FMI chief collaboration officer and discussion panelist. Success will come to those who collaborate effectively, embrace automation, understand consumers better and use the new research as a call to action, panel members said.

The introductory set of insights from this joint, multi-year initiative offer a comprehensive look into the behaviors, motivations and expectations of the digitally engaged food shopper. This first perspective offers recommendations on how food marketers and manufacturers should be preparing their strategies and managing the organizational change that will be required to engage those shoppers.

“While we are more connected than ever to influence what shoppers buy, the window to influence those moments is narrowing,” Baum said. “FMI and its members will need to seize the opportunity to harness new skills and collaborate more seamlessly than ever before to effectively reach these digitally savvy food shoppers. We’re building the tools to help our members assess where they are in their connected commerce strategies.”

Initial findings from this study show that within the next decade, online food shopping will reach maturation in the U.S., far faster than other industries that have come online before. Research also revealed that the center store is likely to shift online faster than other departments, suggesting a fundamental evaluation of the role the store plays in digital food shopping.

“The grocery business truly is at a digital tipping point, where every aspect of the shopper’s journey will soon be influenced by digital, and increasingly enabled by digital platforms,” Morley said. “The need for retailers and manufacturers to know the differences around how consumers shop online versus in-store is greater than ever before. Analytics will be key for retailers and manufacturers to understand the digitally engaged food shopper on a deeper level. Beyond unified insights that connect the dots across consumer interaction and platforms, the winning strategy will turn metrics into action steps towards effective digital engagement.” read more

By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
www.progressivegrocer.com/departments/technology/fmi-midwinter-digitally-engaged-food-shopper

The health and wellness trend has gained huge momentum in the food retail industry over the last few years, and 2017 is shaping up to be no different. From national chains to independent store operators, retailers and brands will likely incorporate health and wellness into their business strategies this year. But what specifically will they focus on?

If 2016 was any indication, there are several health and wellness trends that food retailers and brands can expect to carry into 2017. And after combing through coverage in SmartBrief’s food and beverage newsletters, we identified some of last year’s biggest trends in health and wellness that the food industry should keep in mind in the coming year.

In-store efforts and events
Schnuck Markets offered dietitian-led store tours and cooking classes for new parents through their Baby Month initiative, Raley’s Supermarkets helped shoppers take small steps toward healthier lifestyles with its “Let’s Begin” program and Inserra Supermarkets ShopRite celebrated a decade of its retail dietitian service through a Healthy Meals Makeover event series last year, a string of similar efforts that will likely continue into 2017. Kroger banners Ralphs and Food 4 Less launched an effort that paired doctors, dietitians and nutrition experts with shoppers in stores to help them make healthier food choices. Last year, the number of dietitians working in retails stores neared the 1,000 mark, the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance reported.

“We’re really seeing the supermarket registered dietitian shine,” FMI’s Heather Garlich told the Journal News.

Last year’s in-store health and wellness efforts were not all focused around retail dietitians. This year, the industry could also see events like Produce for Kids’ partnership with Power Your Lunchbox Pledge, which included a campaign that provided recipes, tips and promotions aimed at helping families eat healthier lunches.

Easy, healthy meals and snacks
Produce for Kids’ healthy lunch campaign fits into another 2016 trend that could have legs into 2017. Shoppers sought out healthy meal and snack options, but they also looked for options that were easy and convenient, which are two words the food retail industry could hear a lot about this year too.

Healthy brand EatingWell teamed up with Bellisio Foods last year to offer easy-to-prepare frozen entrees like Cherry Port Pork that are also free of preservatives, artificial colors and hydrogenated oils. Meanwhile, Hormel Foods focused its product expansion around convenient, healthy offerings, adding Rev Bites, Muscle Milk bars and other portable better-for-you snacks. They are just two of many brands that tapped shopper demand for healthy and convenient food options last year, and expect more to come in 2017.

Better-for-you snacks and beverages
Hormel’s better-for-you product launches also highlight last year’s trend toward better-for-you snacks and beverages, which is sure to remain relevant this year. Makers of snack packs took advantage of last year’s demand for healthy snacks by offering veggies with built-in dips and other pairings such as cheese cubes and pretzels.

In the fall, PepsiCo made plans to revamp its lineup of snacks and beverages to focus more on health through efforts including seasoning its Frito-Lay offerings to decrease sodium and gradually lowering the calories in two-thirds of its beverages to 100 calories or less per 12-ounce serving. And Pepsi wasn’t the only company turning its focus to healthier beverages last year. Research from Canadean found that functional drinks including vegetable blends and probiotics were seeing increased interest, which shows no signs of slowing down this year.

Functional, natural and organic foods
Consumers’ cravings for functional beverages last year points to another trend likely to continue into 2017. Functional foods like fermented foods that promote gut health and immunity and chocolate products that also provide health benefits continued to gain popularity last year. Meanwhile, shoppers are also likely to continue seeking out natural and organic products this year, after sales in the category were slated to reach $69 billion last year, which was a trend that showed up in the aisles of national retailers and smaller chains alike.

By Julia Russell
http://www.smartbrief.com/original/2017/01/store-events-easy-options-and-other-health-trends-food-retail-year?utm_source=brief

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