COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Thieves are now getting your credit card numbers from gas pumps in a new way you might never even notice.
So how do they do it? Thieves are putting skimmers on the inside of gas pumps in Ohio.
“Once they get the credit card on the magnetic strip… they can encode those numbers,’ said Corey Schwartz with the Franklin County Auditor’s Office.
Thieves are known to try to put skimmers on the outside of gas pumps where you put your card in, but now the Franklin County Auditor’s Office says thieves are sneaking into pumps by unlocking them with universal keys they buy online. Then they attach the skimmer inside and wait for unsuspecting victims. They don’t even have to return to the pump to get your numbers.
“They can put in a Bluetooth skimming device,” said Schwartz. “They can have their laptop out and be within 300 feet on the other side of the parking lot, and they don’t have to go and retrieve the device.”
In Franklin County, gas pumps are inspected annually and “spot checks” are done as needed. But 30 of these types of skimmers have been discovered inside gas pumps across Ohio.
None have been found so far in Franklin County, but the problem is growing across the country.
“The hard thing about this crime is the consequence of it. If you’re victimized by a skimmer, it can cost you financially and it’s a little more than a hassle,” said Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo.
So how can you protect yourself? Schwartz says never use a card with a pin, a credit card is better than debit, and use cash if you can. Always check to see if the pump has been tampered with and you can look for the inspection sticker on the pump from the Franklin County Auditor’s Office.