Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 23, 2018

Credit card fraud increasing, police provide tips to prevent it

Oct 13, 2017

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


Credit card fraud is increasing in Mt. Pleasant over the past several weeks at an alarming rate.

Lt. Lyle Murray of the Mt. Pleasant Police Department stated at the Oct. 11 Mt. Pleasant City Council meeting that the department is averaging one case per day, and it takes four or five hours of an officer’s time to do the investigative work on fraudulent use of credit cards.

Credit/debit cards, the department says, are being compromised even though the owner still has physical possession of the card.

To ward off being a victim of fraud, the police department offers the following tips.

“Skimming” is a method by which thieves steal your credit card information, and all it requires is a little illicit technology and a lot of criminal intent by those who handle your credit card.

Skimming occurs most frequently at retail outlets that process credit card payments — particularly bars, restaurants and gas stations.


How skimming works

Skimmers are small devices that can scan and store credit card data from the magnetic stripes. Thieves can install skimmers on a gas pump, or employees can have a skimmer stashed out of sight of customers. Once the card is run through the skimmer, the data is recorded, and the thief can sell the information through a contact or on the Internet, at which point counterfeit cards are made. The criminals go on a shopping spree with a cloned copy of the credit or debit card, and cardholders are unaware of the fraud until a statement arrives with purchases they did not make.


Protect your cards from thieves

Debit, ATM, and credit cards are a popular target for criminals, and many times the crime does not involve the physical loss of your card. Follow these tips to help protect your cards from fraud.


Protect your cards and card numbers

Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Make photocopies of the front and back of all your cards and store them in a secure place in the event your wallet is lost or stolen. Be sure to sign the signature panel on the back of your card. Always take your receipts (even after an incomplete ATM transaction) and securely destroy them when they are no longer needed. Tear or shred expired cards and cancel and destroy all unused cards. Never include your card number in an email.


Keep your personal identification number (PIN) secure

Avoid using numbers that are easily identified with your personal identity, such as birth date, phone number, etc. Memorize your PIN, do not write it on your card or store it in your wallet. Also, do not share it with anyone or reveal it over the phone.


Conduct your ATM transactions privately

Make sure no one watches you enter your PIN. Shield the ATM keypad during the transaction to prevent a camera or remote reader from recording your PIN and card numbers.


Be alert for “skimmers”

Do not swipe your card in machines that claim to clean, re-magnetize or renew your card. If the machine looks like it has been tampered with, re-manufactured or has any loose parts, don’t use it. This machine could be a “skimmer” which is used to copy identifying information from the magnetic strip on your card.


Pay attention to your surroundings

Make sure the ATM is in a well-lit location. If the ATM is enclosed in an area that has a door, make sure that it is secured. If you leave your car and walk to the ATM, lock your car. If you use a drive-up ATM, be sure to roll up passenger windows and lock your car doors. Once your transaction is complete, put your cash, card and receipt away and leave the premises. It is best to count your money later when you are not in a public location.

Monitor your debit and credit card accounts frequently to ensure there are no unauthorized transactions.

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