Several of IBAT’s key initiatives will be heard in the Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee on Thursday. We have been highly engaged in a variety of bills to limit the ongoing damaging effects of skimmers on gas pumps, and we are pleased to see these bills moving forward.
HB 2945 creates “merchant duties” to take steps to prevent the installation of skimmers on gas pumps, and sets up security and reporting protocols. The Attorney General will have rulemaking authority to mandate “best practices”, and civil and criminal penalties are established for non-compliance. While there are ongoing battles over jurisdiction and authority, we believe a Committee Substitute will address those issues, along with providing language to address enhancements in payment technologies and flexibility in law enforcement duties. This bill has some 70 cosponsors, and two impressive Joint Authors, Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Oscar Longoria. If passed, this would be the first law in the nation addressing the responsibilities of station operators in this ongoing problem for both banks and consumers.
HB 2624 allows for the prosecution of card abuse in a variety of counties, and makes prosecution of these offenses a lower hurdle than now exists.
HB 2625 makes possession of five or more fraudulent cards or digital data stored on those cards with intent to harm or defraud another person a crime. The penalties increase proportionately based upon the number of cards or digital data in one’s possession, and penalties are enhanced if the victim is an elderly individual. There is protection for businesses and government agencies with cards or data in their possession for legitimate purposes.
HB 2626 defines counterfeit debit and credit cards, and creates an offense if one knowingly possesses, uses, transfers or receives a counterfeit card. This bill will not be heard separately, but the language will be incorporated into HB 2625 in a Committee Substitute.
All of these bills are authored by Representative Mary Ann Perez of Houston, who along with her Chief of Staff Ryan Perales, have been tremendously engaged and passionate about this issue. Community bankers and the citizens of Texas should be very grateful for their commitment and dogged persistence on this issue.