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PIN Pads Face Security Upgrades

BY Marc Millstein

There have been some 150 to 200 PIN-Pad tampering incidents in the last two years, and the trend basically represents organized crime trying to find the weakest link in a system to steal people’s personal identification numbers (PINs) and their money.

As ATMs have become commonplace in almost all retail outlets, the rising sophistication (and in some case, very simple) methods criminals are using to steal PIN information, not to mention entire PIN Pad devices, should be cause for considerable alarm. Particularly as such incidents greatly impact a consumer’s confidence and feeling of safety in shopping in your store.

Such was just a quick summary of new ways in which criminals are preying on ATMs as jackpots of money waiting to be stolen, according to Jeff Wakefield, VP of marketing, integrated systems, VeriFone, speaking in Las Vegas at TOPSS (Technology & Operations Store Summit) in October. TOPSS is produced by Chain Store Age and Retail Technology Quarterly.

The good news, he pointed out, is that a majority of theft is occurring among older pre-PED PIN Pad terminals. Also, there is a proven and organized way in which retailers can protect against such breeches, or, if targeted, detect the breach as quickly as possible.

Among the many practical suggestions Wakefield outlined for protecting customers’ information and the money stored in ATMs, were the following strong recommendations:

Inventory all POS PEDs (PIN entry devices) and expedite the replacement of any PEDs of models known to have been compromised;

Ensure that only authorized personnel service deployed PEDs at all locations;

Accurately manage PED inventories and physically secure PEDs so they cannot be removed, modified or replaced;

Actively monitor PED internal serial numbers and be aware of any suspicious serial-number changes;

Work with merchant banks and/or encryption and support organizations to create a plan that ensures all deployed POS PEDs are Visa-approved; and

Train employees about potential PIN compromises and inspect POS PED inventories regularly.

While the amount of work involved may seem, well, annoying and a burden for retailers already saddled with so many security and growing numbers of other regulations, the task can be managed if implemented and followed in a coordinated and methodical manner. “A layered approach is definitely better than having a single approach to attacking this problem and one that I think everyone should be implementing or looking at doing soon. Visa also has helped with developing these types of safeguarding measures as well,” he noted.

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CompUSA may get a new look

BY CSA STAFF

ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.

According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.

The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.

Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.

While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.

“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.

CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.

The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.

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Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.

Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:

“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.

“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”

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