Lucas County Auditor seeks help from gas stations to protect you from skimmers

Lucas County Auditor seeks help from gas stations to protect you from skimmers
(Source: WTOL)

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - There's a new program out there to protect you while you're pumping gas.

This comes after three skimmers were found in about two months: two in Lucas County and another in Wood County all at Truenorth Shell Stations.

While the business has changed their pump locks, the Lucas County Auditor wants to prevent this kind of theft from happening again.

While you can protect yourself by paying with cash, using your card inside and checking the seal on the gas pump, what do gas stations have to do to protect you?

Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez says the state of Ohio has no regulations for gas stations, but she hopes to create standards in Lucas County to help protect customers.

They are creating a new pilot program to encourage gas stations to change the universal locks on pumps.

Of the nearly 1,400 gas pumps in Lucas County, 922 are still vulnerable to gas card skimmers that steal your credit card information because of the way they're locked.

"We've got to shake things up here," said Lopez. "We've got to make sure that anyone who even contemplates using skimmers in Lucas County, we are taking the next steps to protect our citizens."

The auditor's office has set aside around $23,000 dollars to pay for new locks costing around $30 each.

While the gas station still must pay for a technician to install the lock, the auditor hopes this incentive will encourage business owners to act fast.

"If that can motivate the gas station that so far to date has not taken any action, then we are going to try to see how it works," explained Lopez. "We're hoping it is going to be successful so that we can rid all gas stations of the vulnerability of skimmer theft."

Businesses can apply for funding at Lucas County's skimmer summit, those who sign up to change their locks early will receive incentives, while those who don't will be publicized as not doing so.

The auditor hopes to get feedback from community members and businesses as they work to create standards for gas stations in Lucas County to protect customers.

"We're hoping to get good ideas, some uniform practices in Lucas County and hopefully other counties can learn," explained Lopez. "We all don't have a lot of money, but I can't sit on the sideline and talk about a problem without trying to come up with a solution."

The skimmer summit is set for February 23rd at 2:00 p.m. and will last about an hour at the Emergency Services Training Center at 2127 Jefferson Avenue in Toledo.

The Wood County Auditor said they annually check their nearly 1,500 pumps, but encourage their gas stations to check for skimmers daily, but do not have a program in place at this time.

While chip readers at the pump would help protect citizens, the deadline for the switch to this technology has been extended until 2020 because of the expensive cost of the change for business owners.

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