TROTWOOD — Speakers at the recent skimmer summit held in Montgomery County warned those in attendance that the problem of illegal credit card skimmers being placed on gas pumps is a growing concern that is likely to get worse over the next couple of years.
Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith organized the December 2 conference after skimming devices were discovered inside gas pumps at five different locations in Montgomery, Butler and Hamilton counties during the month of November. More than 40 law enforcement and weights and measures officials from a number of communities and surrounding counties attended the summit held at the Madison Lakes Learning and Conference Center in Trotwood.
Since the meeting in Trotwood, additional skimmers were discovered at two locations in Warren County in December.
Keith called the summit to provide “a platform to build awareness and share information in an effort to try and combat this illegal criminal activity that preys upon unsuspecting consumers.”
“This practice is a form of identity theft,” Keith said. “These devices are used to steal credit card information when consumers use their cards to purchase fuel at the pump and, as the recent discovery of two more skimmers in Mason and Franklin to the south of Montgomery County demonstrates, this is a threat that is likely to continue.”
A number of speakers and panelists were featured at the summit including Trooper Frank Applegate from the Ohio Highway Patrol, Deputy State Sealer Fran Elson-Houston from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Natalie Dunlevey, president and owner of National Processing Solutions, a Dayton based company specializing in credit card processing.
The speakers focused on how to identify an illegal skimmer, what to do when a skimmer is discovered, and the need to educate the public and gas station operators about the threats posed by these devices.
One concern raised by the speakers focused on the delay in the use of more secure credit card technology for gas purchases.
“This delay will make gas pumps more likely targets for identity theft over the next two years,” Keith said.
Clark County Auditor John Federer, Greene County Auditor David Graham and Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan co-hosted the December 2 summit. In most of the cases where skimmers have been reported in gas pumps they were discovered as the result of routine inspections by county weights and measures officials. But, Keith said, periodic inspections by county officials will only go so far in preventing this practice.
“All of us, consumers, station operators, and law enforcement officials have a role to play in preventing this problem from escalating,” Keith said. “We can all be more alert and exercise more caution when we fill up. Station operators should closely monitor their pumps and consumers should never use a debit card to pay for their gas purchases.”
Keith indicated that similar events like the one held in Montgomery County may be hosted by county auditors in other parts of the state.