Auditor Karl Keith encourages all gas stations to take measures to ensure consumers are protected at their pumps. Gas stations are the front line of defense against the skimming crime. But most gas stations do not have adequate security measures on their pumps. Stations should take precautionary measures to ensure their consumers' finances are safe at their station. There are a number of ways gas stations can secure their pumps:
1.) Site-specific locks
Nearly every known instance of gas pump skimming in Ohio has occurred on a pump with a universal lock - the vast majority of gas pump manufacturers sell the pumps with universal locks on them. These pumps can be accessed easily with a universal key that criminals can purchase at a low cost. Criminals then target stations with these types of pumps because they know it will be easy to access the insides.
Auditor Keith recommends that gas stations improve their locking systems. Nearly any locksmith is able to provide this service, and it is affordable. Stations that install site specific locks may be eligible to be added to the list of Gold Seal Stations.
2.) Frequent credit card reader checks
Regular inspections of credit card readers is an easy and cost-effective approach to keep consumers safe. Credit card readers should be checked daily by station attendants, if not more frequently. This practice should not replace secured lock systems but can be used to further ensure consumer security.
Station managers should train their employees to be able to identify credit card skimmers. Skimmer identification tips can be found here. If an attendant sees something strange in a pump, and isn’t sure if it’s a skimmer, they can call our Weights and Measures department at 937-225-6309 to have an inspector assist them.
3.) Other security measures
Some stations have pumps that are outfitted with alarm systems that sound when the pump is accessed without authorization. These systems are more expensive, but they are by-far the best method to ensure gas pump security.
Additionally, well-placed security cameras, with full sight of all the pumps at the station, are another security measure used by stations.
4.) Security tape
Tamper-proof security tape is no replacement for more secure locks, but it is helpful in preventing skimming and is a visible sign to customers that gas stations are dedicated to consumer security. This type of tape shows clearly whether the tape has been broken or removed after being placed over the pump's door-hinge to the inside. Tamper proof tape is very inexpensive. When possible, stations should purchase custom-branded tape that cannot be easily replicated by criminals.
Spot anything suspicious? Contact our Weights and Measures Consumer Hotline at (937) 225-6309.