published: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Sheriff's Office warns about continuation of debit/credit card fraud
Special to the News-Sun
SEBRING - The Highlands County Sheriff's Office continues to receive numerous complaints from residents regarding fraudulent charges on debit and credit cards. In most of the cases the victim is still in possession of the debit or credit card however during some transaction the card number has been captured and subsequently used for unauthorized purchases. Card numbers can be "skimmed" by placing a device on the card readers such as at gas stations or ATM's however it is also possible for thieves to get this information from point of sale terminals in any retail establishment that accepts credit or debit cards.
Banks and financial institutions that issue debit and credit cards watch carefully for uncharacteristic use and possible common purchase points for fraud. In turn they notify their customers and law enforcement so appropriate action can be taken as soon as possible.
In an effort to limit your losses to unauthorized debit or credit card use, please consider the following suggestions:
- Check your credit card statements as soon as you receive them. Report ANY charges that you did not make, even if the charge is minimal. Sometimes that small charge is a test and if it goes through, additional larger charges will appear on future statements.
- Review your debit card use regularly. Some financial institutions participate in notification programs that will send you an email or text message when your debit card has been used. This may be helpful in identifying breaches in a timely manner and keep you from unnecessary losses.
- When purchasing gas at retailers with numerous pumps such as large convenience stores, opt for pumps that are in direct view of the clerks inside the store. Activity around these pumps is more likely to be noticed by store personnel thus people planting skimming devices usually chose more remote pumps to tamper with.
- Go inside the convenience store to make your credit card payment. Most skimming devices are recovered from the pumps themselves. By using the terminals inside the store you minimize your chance for theft.
- The easiest way not to become a victim of credit card skimming is to pay cash for purchases made at locations subject to this type of activity such as convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants.
Early detection of this activity is the best way to limit any losses. Once again, if you see charges on your account that you did not make, report them to your financial institution immediately as well as to law enforcement. Checking your credit report with one of the three credit reporting companies, Experian, Trans Union and Equifax, is also recommended.
If you would like more information on this subject, contact Highlands County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Specialist Nell Hays at 402-7369.
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