DAYTON — As travelers are packing their bags and finalizing their vacation plans, Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith has instructed his Weights and Measures inspectors to check more than 60 gas stations for skimming devices before Memorial Day weekend to protect travelers from identity theft over the long weekend.
The inspectors will check more than 500 pumps by Friday. Keith noted that criminals have heavily targeted southwest Ohio with this crime. Of the 44 skimming devices that have been found in Ohio gas pumps since 2015, more than half have been found in southwest Ohio, many near the interstate.
“We know this crime is prevalent in our corner of the state. We also know it is more common on holiday weekends, when criminals know there are more travelers on the road,” said Keith. “Nobody wants to begin the summer by having their credit card skimmed and identity stolen.”
AAA estimates nearly 35 million Americans will travel by car over the weekend, the highest level of travel since 2005. These motorists should be vigilant, according to Keith.
“Consumers should always take the proper measures to protect themselves when they are at the pump, such as 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. 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. 65 county auditors hosted a statewide ‘Skimmer Sweep’ last 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.