LIMA — Officials in Allen County will participate this weekend with authorities from 60 counties in a state sweep of gas pumps looking for illegal skimmers used to steal credit card numbers.
Auditor Rhonda Eddy-Stienecker announced the sweep with the county sheriff and Lima’s police chief at her side today as they stood next to a pump at the BP station at Allentown and Cable roads. She said it’s a growing problem, and Allen County wants to prevent it from happening locally.
“A skimmer is a very dangerous things. It actually steals off information from your credit card or debit card, and they can actually wipe out your bank account,” Eddy-Stienecker said.
About 12,000 pumps across the state will be inspected this weekend, including more than 750 of the pumps in Allen County, representing about 75 percent of the pumps. Inspectors will be looking for skimmers placed inside the pump near the credit card reader, she said.
The skimmers are installed within seconds and can transmit information in a remote way very quickly, she said.
Skimmers have been found across the state on more than 30 gas pumps, she said, although the devices haven’t been found in the Lima area yet.
Eddy-Stienecker said it can happen anywhere. She recommends people pay in cash or use a credit card that offers protection and does not hold customers responsible for fraudulent charges.
“Do not use a debit card. They can steal your pin and actually drain your bank account,” she said.
The BP gas station at Allentown and Cable roads uses tamper-proof seals and has credit card readers that are very hard to break in to, which is not always the case.
Jim Offenbaker is the inspector for the Allen County Auditor’s Office. He said customers should always look for a tamper-proof seal on the pump and if it is broken, they should report it to the clerk at the gas station.
Station managers and clerks are asked to check all pumps multiple times a day for broken seals, he said.
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said illegal skimmers are a serious crime that detectives will exhaust all resources to find the criminals including surveillance video, fingerprints and DNA evidence.
“It would be a case that we would leave no stone unturned. This is a very serious offense. It’s something that could really devastate people financially,” Martin said.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.