Fighting fraud: Helpful tools to avoid credit card theft

FILE - This Nov. 18, 2009 file photo shows credit and bank cards with electronic chips in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. In the wake of recent high-profile data breaches, including this week’s revelation that hackers stole consumer data from eBay’s computer systems, Visa and MasterCard are renewing a push to speed the adoption of microchips into U.S. credit and debit cards. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Every time you swipe your credit card, you’re taking a gamble with your bank account. 24-Hour News 8’s sister station, WLFI, uncovers what investigators say will help you avoid becoming a victim.

According to Purdue Federal Credit Union’s CEO Bob Falk, in the last year, there has been a 300 percent increase in credit card fraud at Purdue Federal Credit Union.

West Lafayette Police Detective Jeff Dunscomb has been striving to catch thieves who have been skimming local ATMs and gas pumps.

“We’re extremely serious about credit card fraud and credit card skimming,” said Dunscomb. “We don’t want to tolerate it in our city, and we don’t want to have it in county.”

Dunscomb said police are still looking for two persons of interest who cashed in hundreds of dollars at a West Lafayette Purdue Federal Credit Union ATM.

“Not only did they have a card reader to steal your magnetic information, but they had a camera to steal your pin number,” said Dunscomb.

Falk said fraud has become a big issue in the last year.

“Fraud’s gotten much worse in the last year or so,” said Falk. “We’re seeing three times the amount of fraud on a dollar basis than we saw last year.”

So how do you avoid becoming a victim?

“There are very easy things that can be done to prevent your card from being skimmed,” Dunscomb said.

Investigators said before swiping your plastic, check for anything that looks out of place or damaged.

“If you’re at a gas pump and the card reader is green and every other gas pump has a black card reader on it, that should probably tell you that there’s a problem,” said Dunscomb.

Fraud experts said filling up at the pump closest to the cashier is a good idea because criminals are less likely to install a skimmer right in front of the attendant.

“If you’re at a restaurant or at a drive-thru, watch your card. Keep an eye on the card,” said Dunscomb. “Make sure it doesn’t go down to somebody’s belt. Make sure it goes to the register and back into your hand.”

Investigators said the best way to fight fraud is early detection.

If you see suspicious charges and believe your account has been compromised, alert your bank right away.

“The best security is yourself and being proactive in that,” cyber security expert Rachel Sitarz said. “There’s no 100 percent cause there’s always going to be somebody who’s sitting at a computer, trying to exploit you.”

Fraud experts say chip cards are by far the best thing to use right now. They suggest putting your hand over the keyboard when punching in your pin to avoid any hidden cameras from picking it up.