Attorney General announces enhanced efforts to investigate skimmer crimes

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that cyber crime agents with the Attorney General’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) now have a new tool to help local law enforcement agencies investigate crimes involving credit card skimmers.

Through the use of new technology, the BCI Cyber Crimes Unit now has the ability to extract data from a majority of credit card skimmers, which criminals use to steal credit card or debit card information from unsuspecting cardholders. The skimmers are often hidden on ATM and gas pump card readers and allow identity thieves to steal card information.

The technology that is now in use at BCI allows agents to pull data from credit card skimmers in a forensically sound manner to aid local law enforcement in identifying both the suspects and victims involved.

In a recent case, BCI agents assisted an Ohio law enforcement agency in identifying more than 700 victims of a single skimmer device.

“With just a simple swipe of your credit or debit card, skimmers put your name, card number, and other data into the hands of identity thieves so that they can go on a shopping spree,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Investigations to track down the source of a skimmer can be very complex, but by making this new tool available to local law enforcement, we hope to help authorities identify these cyber criminals before they have the chance to use the card information they’ve stolen.”

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of a credit card skimmer include:

  • Check for fake overlays, which are devices that identity thieves place over existing ATM/gas pump card readers. Most fake overlays are secured by tape. Try wiggling or pulling on the reader before inserting your card. If the device comes off, it is most likely a skimmer overlay.
  • Check for damage or foreign objects inside the card reader.
  • Check for a gas pump security seal. Some gas stations place stickers on gas pumps that will turn void if the inside of the gas pump has been tampered with.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. ┬áIf you must use a debit card, run the transaction as credit, if possible.
  • If a pin code is required to complete the transaction, cover up the pin pad with your other hand. Thieves sometimes place small cameras in card readers to obtain pin code information.
  • Pay inside at the cashier instead of paying at the pump.
  • Monitor your credit card and back accounts regularly.

Law enforcement officers interested in more information on how BCI can assist in skimmer cases can call 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).

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