The Skimmer Scam Hits Cuyahoga County



By: Sheryl Harris, Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs



“County Weights and Measures inspectors found a credit-card skimmer tucked inside a gas pump cabinet at a Garfield Heights gas station in early July.”


What is a skimmerIt’s not easy to spot a credit card skimmer.



ID thieves plant these illegal devices on point-of-sale registers to skim off your information when you swipe your bank or credit card. By design, skimmers are camouflaged or hidden.



When the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs began hearing last fall about a rash of skimming incidents in Southern Ohio, it asked local U.S. Secret Service agents to teach county Weights and Measure inspectors how to spot and report skimmers, should they come across the devices during their annual gas station inspections.



That training paid off in July, when County Weights and Measures inspectors found a credit-card skimmer tucked inside a gas pump cabinet at a Garfield Heights gas station in early July.



Luckily for the station’s customers, the Secret Service was able to remove the skimmer before thieves could retrieve the device and the data stored on it.



It’s the responsibility of gas station owners to make sure their gas pumps are skimmer-free. To help stations know what to look for, the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs is organizing skimmer trainings for station owners. We’ll announce the details soon.



In the meantime, you can help protect your credit card information from skimmers by taking these precautions:
  • Pay in cash or use your card indoors if feasible.
  • Use a credit card rather than debit card. (Disputing fraud on a credit card is easier.)
  • When paying at the pump, use pumps that are in a clear line of sight of the station office – they’re less likely to be compromised.
  • Regularly review statements for unauthorized transactions.


Have questions about card skimmers, ID theft or any other consumer issue? Visit the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs website or follow the Department on Facebook.