Credit card skimmers found on Hermitage gas pumps - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Credit card skimmers found on Hermitage gas pumps

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Police are warning customers who have filled up at a particular Hermitage gas station to check their bank accounts and credit card charges.

Hermitage Police Chief Eric Jewell tells 21 News that credit card skimmers were discovered Thursday on two gas pumps at the Circle K on North Buhl Farm Drive.

Skimmers are devices placed on authentic credit card readers so criminals can steal credit information when unsuspecting customers swipe their credit or debit cards.

Chief Jewell says the skimmers were discovered during a routine inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Division of Weights and Measures.

Jewell tells 21 News that the skimmers had been secretly installed inside the pumps, so he believes that someone had keys to unlock the pumps.

While skimmers placed on may ATM machines are external devices and more easily discovered, Jewell says it would have been difficult to spot the skimmers on the Circle K pumps.

“These crooks had a set of keys to get inside pumps and wire them internally,” said Jewell. “There is some sophistication to this, making it hard to detect.”

The chief says it doesn't appear that the skimmers were capable of transmitting the personal information, but he adds that there's no way of telling if someone came and collected the information by swapping out one skimmer for another.

Jewell says there is no way of knowing how long the skimmers were in place before they were removed.

Across the line in the Mahoning Valley, Supervisory Special Agent-In-Charge Todd Werth with the Youngstown FBI says the skimmer crimes have surfaced in the last year, including in communities like Austintown and in Trumbull County as well.

"We've worked skimmer cases with the Trumbull County Sheriff and Howland Police.  Two people were arrested in Texas for putting skimmers on ATM machines here in the Mahoning Valley," Werth said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture offers the following warning signs for card skimmers:

  • Poorly lit pumps farthest from the station and closest to the street
  • Little or no video surveillance
  • Out-of-date pump inspections (inspection overdue more than 18 months)
  • Open or unlocked pump face (exposing the electronics of the pump)
  • No tamper-resistant tape on pumps (many different sizes and colors and not every pump will have it)
  • Look for broken or missing tamper-resistant tape
  • Inspect the card reader and compare it to other pumps – if it looks different, report it
  • Wiggle it – if it’s loose, report it

The U.S. Department of the Treasury also offers tips on how consumers can avoid credit skimmers:

How High-Tech Thieves Operate

Thieves have many ways to steal your account information. They may attach a card skimmer that looks and acts like a genuine part of the ATM or other types of money machine. The device may be a simple, curved plastic sheath over the card slot. The skimmer reads the magnetic strip or computer chip on your card and transmits your account information to the thieves or saves the information until the skimmer is retrieved.

Thieves may also use a wireless camera concealed nearby in a box holding brochures or in a light fixture. The camera photographs or videotapes your fingers as they enter your PIN on a keypad or screen. Like a card skimmer, the camera can transmit images instantly or save them until the thieves retrieve the camera later. A camera and card skimmer can be used together.

Safeguarding Your Personal Bank Account Information

To help protect you, banks and retailers take measures to minimize the risk of fraudulent use of your debit or credit card, particularly when those purchases are made by telephone or online.

Before approving telephone purchases, retailers typically confirm your identity by asking for personal information. They may ask for your address, the last four digits of your social security number, or answers to security questions you created when you set up your account.

Retailers also may ask for the three-digit security code printed on the front or back of your debit or credit card. To protect your online transaction from electronic fraud, many commercial Web sites require you to unscramble a word or a number displayed as a fuzzy or distorted image that is difficult for software to read.

Protecting Yourself With Common Sense Security Measures

Ultimately, you must protect yourself against thieves and the tools they use to access your accounts to steal from you. To protect yourself, follow these common-sense precautions:

Walk away from an ATM if you notice someone watching you or if you sense something wrong with the machine; immediately report your suspicions to the company operating the machine or a nearby law enforcement officer.

Before using an ATM, examine nearby objects that might conceal a camera; check the card slot for a plastic sheath before inserting your card.

Never keep a written copy of your PIN in your wallet or purse as it could be stolen; instead, memorize your PIN and keep a paper record hidden at home.

When entering your PIN, stand close to the machine and hold your hand over the keypad or screen to make it more difficult for a person or camera to watch you.

Beware of strangers offering to help you with an ATM that appears disabled and notify someone responsible for the security of the machine.

Regularly review your account statements, either online or on paper, and check for unauthorized withdrawals and purchases. If you find one, immediately contact your bank or credit card provider, as this will limit your financial liability for fraudulent charges.

Federal laws limit your liability from debit and credit card fraud. Two federal laws, in particular, protect you.

The Truth in Lending Act generally limits your liability to $50 for any unauthorized use of your credit card. However, you are not responsible for unauthorized charges on your account—if you report a lost or stolen credit card before the card is used. Also, you are not responsible if the fraud results from someone using your credit card number alone rather than your credit card.

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act also limits your liability for unauthorized use of your debit or ATM cards—if you quickly report the lost or stolen card. You are not held responsible for unauthorized charges if you report the fraud before unauthorized transactions are made. If unauthorized transactions occur before you report your card missing or compromised, your liability depends on how quickly you report the loss.

Additional Information:

The Federal Trade Commission provides more information on what to do if your card is lost or stolen in its fact sheet "Credit, ATM and Debit Cards: What to Do if They’re Lost or Stolen," at

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