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 stations to take responsibility for securing their pumps,” Keith said, adding that the chips in the cards have also helped deter criminal activity.
Many skimmers are placed inside the pump, said Joseph Harris, chief inspector with the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office. It’s rare that someone can find a skimmer on the outside of the pump, Keith said, but there are ways people can protect themselves.
“Cash is king,” Keith said. “You can always use cash. But we know people don’t like that, so they use their credit card.
He also said that no one should use a debit card at the pump, but rather a credit card, because certain protections are built into it. Keith said a criminal can install a skimmer in 30 seconds, and if anyone 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 on Wednesday and said they were staying home and working over the holidays. They said the only time they really think about skimmers is when they see a news report about them, but they take precautions every day to make sure they don’t get ripped off.
“I’m pretty up to date, checking my account every day, maybe twice a day,” Ellerhorst said.
Skimmering 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.