Auditor Keith checks gas pumps to protect holiday travelers
Chief Inspector Joe Harris checks a pump as Auditor Keith looks on
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 30, 2016
Contact: Mike Brill
With a rash of credit card skimming activity in southwest Ohio and across the state, Montgomery County Auditor Keith instructed his Weights and Measures inspectors to check more than 60 gas stations during the last 10 days of the year for skimming devices to protect consumers and holiday travelers from identity theft.
The inspectors will check more than 500 pumps before the new year. No skimming devices have yet been found in these inspections.
Butler County has been less fortunate. Three credit card skimmers have been found on Butler County gas pumps since December 17. Additionally, skimmers were found in the Toledo and Lima areas earlier in the month. With these new findings, at least 30 skimming devices have been found in Ohio in the past year, more than half of which were found in southwest Ohio. Skimmers have been found in 18 counties across the state.
AAA estimates more than 93 million Americans will travel by car over the holidays, more than in any previous year.
“We know this crime is prevalent on holiday weekends, when criminals know there are more travelers on the road,” said Keith. “A bad way to begin the New Year is to have your credit card skimmed and identity stolen.”
Keith noted a recent decision could make skimming an even bigger issue in the future. Earlier this month, the major credit card companies pushed back the deadline to install chip card readers on gas pumps from October 2017 to October 2020. After this date, stations will become liable for identity theft that occurs at their pumps.
“This recent decision by the credit card companies makes it clear skimming won’t stop anytime soon,” said Keith.
Keith noted two Speedway stations in Montgomery County have already installed chip readers on their pumps as part of a pilot program. However, those chip readers are not yet activated. Keith suspects the timeline to turn on those chip readers has been delayed along with the liability deadline.
Credit card fraud at gas pumps costs more than $250 million annually, according to a report by Conexxus, a technology and security group. Mastercard reports a 54 percent reduction in fraud since it began transitioning to chip cards, while Visa reports a 43 percent reduction. In that same time period, they say there was a 77 percent increase in fraud with merchants who have not yet switched to using chip readers.
“Consumers should always take the proper measures to protect themselves when they are at the pump, such as by using a credit card rather than a debit card,” said Keith. “Paying for gas with cash is always the safest option.”
Customers who use their debit cards at the pump risk their PIN numbers being stolen. Monthly bank and credit card statements should always be reviewed for any fraudulent charges. Motorists should use pumps near the attendant, as criminals often target far-away pumps. Anything that seems out of place or indicates that a pump has been tampered with should be reported.
Credit card scamming devices can be used to steal credit card and debit card numbers as well as PIN numbers for the purpose of identity theft. Additionally, these devices often have Bluetooth technology, which allow identity thieves to access private information from a distance up to 100 yards.
Keith is collaborating with his fellow county auditors to address this illegal activity in Ohio. 60 county auditors hosted a statewide ‘Skimmer Sweep’ earlier this year, inspecting more than 12,000 gas pumps. Additionally, Keith has hosted nine “Skimmer Summits” across the state to raise awareness about the dangers of gas pump skimmers and teach prevention measures to gas station owners and interested individuals.