Montgomery County auditor searching for credit card skimmers on gas pumps

Combined ShapeCaption
The Montgomery County Auditor's Office is searching for skimmers on gas station pumps ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office is sweeping area gas pumps for credit card skimmers this week ahead of Memorial Day weekend after two were found recently in Southwest Ohio.

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith said there have been four credit card skimmers found in Ohio so far this year, including two in Loveland last month. There hasn’t been a skimmer found in Montgomery County since 2018 when five were found.

“Our weight and measurement staff has been pretty diligent about checking for skimmers and making sure these things aren’t on gas pumps and in position to steal people’s identities,” Keith said.

Combined ShapeCaption
Joseph Harris, chief inspector with the Montgomery County Auditor's Office, shows the inside of a gas pump Wednesday, May 25, 2022 and how criminals hide credit card skimmers inside. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Joseph Harris, chief inspector with the Montgomery County Auditor's Office, shows the inside of a gas pump Wednesday, May 25, 2022 and how criminals hide credit card skimmers inside. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Joseph Harris, chief inspector with the Montgomery County Auditor's Office, shows the inside of a gas pump Wednesday, May 25, 2022 and how criminals hide credit card skimmers inside. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

He said because two were found in the region, and a lot of people travel over Memorial Day weekend, his office will check about 800 pumps in Dayton and Montgomery County.

Keith said Montgomery County was the first to find a credit card skimmer in Ohio in 2013 and since then many gas stations have upgraded their pumps to provide more security by installing better locks and alarms.

“That’s the real key to stopping this problem from continuing. For the stations to take responsibility to secure their pumps,” Keith said, adding that chips in cards have also helped deter the criminal activity.

Many skimmers are put inside the pump, Joseph Harris, chief inspector with the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office said. It is rare that someone will be able to find a skimmer on the outside of the pump, Keith said, but there are ways for people to protect themselves.

Combined ShapeCaption
Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith announced an initiative Wednesday, May 25, 2022 that his office is undertaking to check for credit card skimmers at local gas pumps. Keith showed a picture of what a skimmer looks like at the Shell Station on South Main Street MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith announced an initiative Wednesday, May 25, 2022 that his office is undertaking to check for credit card skimmers at local gas pumps. Keith showed a picture of what a skimmer looks like at the Shell Station on South Main Street MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith announced an initiative Wednesday, May 25, 2022 that his office is undertaking to check for credit card skimmers at local gas pumps. Keith showed a picture of what a skimmer looks like at the Shell Station on South Main Street MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

“Cash is king,” Keith said. “You can always use cash. But we know that people don’t like to that so they use their credit card.”

He also said no one should use a debit card at the pump but instead use a credit card because there are some protections built into them. Keith said a criminal can install a skimmer in 30 seconds, and if someone sees strange activity at the pump they should report it.

Rob Ellerhorst and Jordan Baker of Dayton were at the Shell station on Main Street Wednesday and said they are staying home and working during the holiday. They said the only time they really think about skimmers is when they see a news story about them, but they do take precautions every day to make sure they aren’t being scammed.

“I am pretty up to date, I check my account every day, maybe twice a day,” Ellerhorst said.

Putting a skimmer on a gas pump is a federal crime, Keith said. The FBI estimates that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion a year.

About the Author