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Auditor: Credit Card Skimmers A Growing Risk To Consumers

Auditor Keith and Inspector Joe Harris check a pump for skimmers
Montgomery County
Auditor Keith and Inspector Joe Harris check a pump for skimmers.

The Montgomery County auditor’s office says there were no credit card skimmers found in a countywide sweep of gas pumps carried out last weekend in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Skimmers are small devices designed to steal credit card information. And while none were found at the more 120 gas stations checked across the county, Auditor Karl Keith says there is still reason for concern.

“We did a sweep about two months ago, back in April, and we found five skimmers at five different stations in the southern suburbs of Montgomery County, within like a three or four-mile radius," Keith says. "Over 100 have been found in Ohio over the last couple of years, so yeah, they’re out there, it’s a real threat and it has to be taken seriously.”

Keith says skimmers can be placed on the gas pumps in about 30 seconds, and there is often nothing visible outside the pump that would indicate to a customer the pump has been tampered with.

The problem is a national one. Federal officials say over the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holiday weekends, nationwide gas station sweeps uncovered more than 70 skimmers.

The use of skimmers to steal ATM data is also increasing, according to analytics company FICO Card Alert Service, which found that in 2017 the number of compromised ATMs and point-of-sale devices rose 8 percent across the country, and the number of compromised credit cards climbed 10 percent.

Auditor Keith says drivers shouldn’t be overly worried about gas station skimmer devices. But he advises using caution, paying with cash, using a credit card rather than a debit card if you have to use plastic, he says, and choosing gas pumps located closest to the station attendant whenever possible.