Hamilton County auditor convenes 'skimmer summit' to protect consumers

Posted at 6:03 AM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 14:09:08-04

SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- Swiping a credit card at the gas pump may shave a couple minutes off your daily errands -- but it could result in a banking nightmare if you just put your card in an illegal "skimmer."

Nine credit card skimmers have been detected in Hamilton County gas pumps and businesses in 2016, and Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes addressed this problem at the "Skimmer Summit" at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Sharonville Convention Center.

Local law enforcement and retailers joined Rhodes and Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith at the meeting to discuss how to protect consumers from credit card skimmers.

Since the first skimmer was found in Montgomery County, Keith has taken the lead in combating the problem across the state.

“Along with other auditors, I’ve been trying to educate the public and raise awareness,” Keith said. “We try to give auditors and our inspectors the tools to do presentations like this to help get the word out. It’s kind of something I just fell into.”

The summit provided the opportunity to learn more about illegal skimmers, ask questions and share best practices in an effort to get one step ahead of the criminals.

One method of prevention discussed was the use of tamper-proof seals on gas pumps. These plastic-like stickers tear if the door is forced open, leaving behind a clear indication that a skimmer may be inside.

Keith explained that the seals have been problematic, though. Some retailers have placed them incorrectly on their pumps, which has created a false sense of security for the consumer and no prevention for the problem.

About 80 percent of gas stations in Franklin County, Ohio are putting tamper-proof stickers on pumps, according to Justin Rogers, supervisor of the Franklin County Weights and Measures Department.

Rogers said skimmers have not yet been found in Franklin County, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t taking precautionary measures.

“We’re putting stickers on the pumps just to let residents know that we are checking them,” Rogers said.

Rogers also discussed the possibility of gas stations installing chip readers at the pump, an initiative that would cost roughly $1 billion nationwide.

Along with discussing potential solutions, a common element was evident throughout the summit.

“At this point, I think the best thing we can do is help raise consumer awareness,” Keith said. “All of us have been  working together, from law enforcement to consumers to weights and measures inspectors to retailers. All of us need to work together to try to monitor those pumps and keep them as secure as we can.”