XENIA — The devices are typically inexpensive. They’re small enough to fit inside the palm of someone’s hand. They can be installed and concealed inside or outside a gas pump or ATM in about 30 seconds. Most of the devices can transmit via wireless technology.
They’re called credit card skimmers, and they could easily allow an individual to steal a gas purchaser’s credit card number while sitting in a vehicle in a nearby parking lot, the consumer none the wiser. The devices are typically found on gas pumps, but can also be used in other places where one might swipe a credit card, and are used to copy a card number without a consumer’s knowledge.
While no such devices have been found in Greene County, Greene County Auditor David Graham is warning gas station owners, and consumers especially, to be aware of the devices as several have been found in recent months throughout the Miami Valley, including in Montgomery, Butler and Fayette counties.
The auditor’s office completes annual inspections of all the gas pumps in Greene County, but as Graham noted, the inspection is only good for that moment. Once the inspector leaves, the pump could be compromised shortly after.
“When we inspect it, it’s only good for the time we inspect it,” Graham said. “Two days after we inspect it, someone could come in an install one of these skimmers.”
According to Graham, it’s incumbent on gas station owners to keep a watchful eye out for individuals who might install such a device.
“I’d just [ask] gas station owners to be vigilant in helping to fight this, because they’re the ones that really have the ability to [stop] this,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can, but we can’t go out to every gas station.”
Graham said there’s never 100 percent protection, but added that he still pays at the pump with his credit card.
“It’s not one of those that I’m saying every pump or every station has this problem,” Graham said. “But … every one of our stations are subject to having this problem potentially.”
Consumers should look for signs of tampering wherever they swipe their card and should report any suspicious devices or activity to law enforcement.