Project Protect, a collaborative crime prevention program between law enforcement and community partners, has succeeded in reducing debit card fraud at gas stations across Canada by more than 60%, having first been launched in November 2005.

The reduction in card fraud represents approximately $15 million of avoided losses thanks to Project Protect, a joint education initiative spearheaded by Interac Association and law enforcement with support from Payment Card Partners and other industry partners. The program aims to educate gas retail owners, retail owners, managers and employees about payment card fraud and how they can help prevent it.

Project Protect was directly targeted at gas stations in southern Ontario to significantly reduce and ultimately eliminate debit card fraud from occurring at all locations, said LeAnne Thorfinnson, VP of operations at Interac Association. While fraud continues to be a growing problem, the reduction of debit card fraud in the gas retail sector is a step in the right direction and demonstrates how we’re making it more difficult for fraudsters to operate in Canada.

As part of the program, law enforcement officers visit gas stations to educate management and employees about payment card fraud, equipping merchants with valuable tips on preventing payment card fraud from occurring in their locations.

Since the launch of Project Protect, we have seized skimming equipment, made arrests and seen an increase in the number of gas station employees reporting attempted skimming incidents, said acting detective Brian Wintermute of Peel Regional Police. The success of Project Protect clearly demonstrates that education is an important tool in the fight against fraud.

In September 2006, the program was rolled out across Ontario and into other retail sectors, with the support of the Ontario Provincial Police, Retail Council of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.