It’s starting to sound like the holidays. But as shoppers begin to charge those purchases, it’s important to consider the ways thieves could steal information from credit and debit cards.
One shopper, Patsy Thompson, says, “Until it happens to you then you really aren’t as aware and don’t think that’s ever going to happen to you.”
One Mt. Pleasant shopper, Susie Price, tells News 2 her credit card information has been stolen at least once a year for the past seven years.
Price says, “We’ve had our identity stolen so many times. I’ve had thousands of dollars taken out of my account. Fortunately the bank has covered it, but yeah it causes a problem.”
News 2 sat down with agents from the Secret Service and FBI. They say you don’t have to stop using plastic for purchases, but there’s five big ways to be smart about it.
Number one, use your credit card for online purchases.
Secret Service Resident Agent in Charge, John Kenney, says, “It has a little bit more protection and it also it doesn’t expose your checking account to being exploited. Use a specific card just for online shopping because it will lessen your vulnerability and keep the dollar amount on that card as low as you can and still safely shop and buy what you want to buy.”
Number two, make sure you only shop on legitimate websites.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Brian Womble, says, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you go to a website that you haven’t heard of before, they have a really great deal that just doesn’t seem practical, get a hard address for that company and call that company, make sure they’re legitimate. Do some research before you give them your credit card number.”
Number three, keep an eye out for credit card skimmers.
Kenney says, “We have seen an uptick in skimmer activity. So if the device doesn’t look like it belongs to the gas station or the bank, if it looks like it’s been added on, if you see any cameras over your shoulder, you want to be very careful about using that and in fact you want to not use that and contact local police.”
Number four, check your bank statements carefully.
Kenney says, “Cyber-thieves won’t always look to take the most amount of money out of your credit that they can because they can continue to use that card over a period of time, if possible, by keeping the dollar amount low so you don’t see it coming out every month.”
And number five, if you do see any fraudulent charges, contact your bank and local police immediately.
Kenney says, “If their credit card has been compromised, the bank will cancel it and then they’ll issue them a new one. The next thing you’re going to want to do is file a police report. It doesn’t mean the police are going to actively work the crime but it does bring in statistical information and it brings in intelligence so that we can begin to look at patterns and practices.”
The Secret Service and FBI tell News 2 any time you use a credit or debit card your identity becomes more vulnerable, but by following those five tips your identity will be more secure entering the holiday shopping season.