Auditor inspects local gas pumps

Staff Report

ENGLEWOOD — Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith and his weights and measures inspectors examined gas pumps in Englewood for illegal credit card skimming devices, along with visiting other locations in the county in a sweep before the Labor Day weekend.

Weights and measures inspectors visited a total of 50 gas stations throughout Montgomery County, including six in Englewood. Keith and his team targeted gas stations near highways and busy roads to check for the devices.

The effort is the result of a recently discovered skimmer device at the Sunoco gas station at 1070 S. Main Street in Englewood during a routine inspection, which was the seventh skimmer to be found in a Montgomery County gas pump. With ten skimmers being found in Ohio in the past three weeks, Keith initiated the sweep to protect consumers in Montgomery County during the Holiday weekend. Keith made it a priority to visit Englewood and surrounding areas due to the recent skimmer device discovery. Gas pumps in Englewood are more at-risk to skimmer devices due to the city’s close proximity to the I-70 Interstate, according to Keith.

Keith coordinated the sweep before Labor Day to both protect holiday travelers and to further educate the public of the crime.

“Ultimately, that’s how we defeat the crime, by educating the public on how they can protect themselves,” said Keith.

Criminals who commit this crime are more likely to target stations that allow for a quick get-away, which Keith claimed might be the reason the skimmer was found in Englewood two weeks ago.

“I’ve instructed my inspectors to check at-risk pumps for skimmers to ensure other stations have not been impacted,” said Keith.

Although no skimmers were found, consumers should still be careful when filling up their tanks.

“Consumers should not be worried, but they should be cautious and vigilant while filling up at the pump,” Keith said. “If you witness suspicious activity, do not hesitate to contact the authorities.”

The frequent discovery of these devices indicates that the threat of this crime will continue, according to Keith.

Consumers should know that paying for gas with cash is always the safest option at the pump. Using a credit card is safer than using a debit card because customers who use their debit card risk their PIN numbers being stolen. Monthly bank and credit card statements should always be reviewed for any fraudulent charges.

Credit card scamming devices can be used to steal credit 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 has been a statewide leader in the effort to address the skimming crime, collaborating with his fellow county auditors to address this illegal activity in Ohio. Sixty-five 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.

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Reach the Montgomery County Auditor’s office at (937) 225-5640.