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Office of Securities Bureau of Insurance Consumer Credit Protection Bureau of Financial Institutions Office of Licensing & Registration > Professional Licensing > Press Release

. . . . . . NEWS

35 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333
Contact: Will Lund
(207) 624-8527

For Immediate Release
Thursday - May 5, 2005

Governor Signs Bill Increasing Penalties for Credit Card “Skimming”
Legislation Targets New Identity Theft Problem

AUGUSTA, MAINE: Criminals who "skim" personal data from credit, debit or charge cards will face additional penalties, under a bill signed into law today by Governor John Elias Baldacci. The legislation, LD 83, “An Act to Prohibit Credit Card Skimming,” establishes criminal sanctions for use of two devices – scanning devices and reencoders – if those devices are used to defraud consumers, merchants or the company that issued the card.

"Today's technology permits thieves to steal financial information from a consumer's payment card, and then actually encode that data onto other cards," Governor Baldacci stated. "Those contemplating this type of illegal activity should know that Maine has taken a strong stand against this type of identity theft."

The law, which received strong support from Maine merchants and the banking industry, creates a new Class D crime of "misuse of a scanning device or encoder." Violations are punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Electronic credit card skimmers, some the size of small pagers, can be used by thieves in restaurants, stores, gas stations and even locker rooms. The machines collect and store consumer's personal and account information, which can later be downloaded and used to encode other, plain cards. Adding to the problem is that the consumer's card can be returned to the consumer, unchanged, so that the consumer does not even know that the data theft has occurred until unauthorized charges appear on the consumer's monthly statements.

Although electronic skimmers have not yet been recovered in Maine, law enforcement agencies testified before the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee that the devices have shown up in several New England states.

"In our experience when fraudulent activity of this nature takes place in other states, it's only a matter of time before the dishonest practices find their way to Maine," said Will Lund, director of the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation in the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Lund's office and another state agency, the Bureau of Financial Institutions, assist victims of identity theft by working with creditors, lenders and credit reporting agencies.

While state and federal law protect consumers from having to pay the charges if those charges are properly disputed with the consumers' financial institutions, the process of dealing with such identity theft involves a great deal of time, energy and angst.

"Prevention of identity theft is preferable to dealing with its aftermath," said Lund.

“The best way to avoid becoming a victim to these ever-growing sophisticated scams is to become better educated,” said Lloyd LaFountain, superintendent of the Bureau of Financial Institutions. “The Bureau of Financial Institutions has developed a Consumer Outreach Program that provides this information and can answer questions Maine consumers might have about card skimming and other questionable activities.”

The Bureau’s new online Consumer Library can be accessed at

The Office of Consumer Credit Regulation and the Bureau of Financial Institutions are agencies within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. The department is an umbrella agency for insurance, banking, securities and consumer credit regulation, as well as 41 professional licensing boards and registration programs. The department fosters a healthy business environment through efficient regulation and encourages sound ethical business practices that serve the citizens of Maine.



Last Updated: May 24, 2011