BURGAW, NC (WECT) - First Target, then Neiman Marcus, it seems like no credit and debit card information is safe anymore.
For some in Pender County, the thefts are hitting close to home. The Burgaw Police Department says in the past year the amount of financial fraud has tripled.
Officers say they are getting more calls from people reporting that their credit/debit card was used by someone else. In most of these cases the victim still has their card with them.
Similarly to how the drug crimes work, officers say one person will get a hold of a lot of credit/debit card numbers. They will then sell those numbers to people who either keep and use the information or sell it to someone else.
"Finding the suspects is like finding a needle in a haystack, they cross state lines which makes it hard," said Major Lisa Fields with the Burgaw Police Department.
She says suspects get the information in a variety of ways, including online hackers, machines placed on ATMs that read card information, or even someone in a high level position at a company selling the information.
Once a criminal gets a hold of the card numbers, security code, etc.. Major Fields says they can either make online purchases or actually create a new card replicating the original. They can then use that card in stores, or sell it to someone else.
In some cases, she says criminals will uses trial and error creating cards until they find a set of random numbers that match a working account.
Due to the fact that Burgaw is near several major roadways she says the are also seeing an increase in these replicated/stolen cards being used in Burgaw businesses.
"A lot of times it's people that are traveling through that are using these cards, and a lot of them we don't know, being near I-40 and I-95 those are major routes that run east to west and north to south, just like narcotics it's similar to credit card fraud, people will be traveling I-40 stop and get gas use a card and get back on I-40 and keep going, it makes it very hard," said Major Fields. "A lot of times once they use this card once or twice it's done."
To protect yourself, she suggests using a pre-paid credit card to make online purchases, that way not all of your account can be accessed. She also says you should make sure a site is secure, if it is, it will have a "https" at the beginning of the URL.
If your information is stolen, and your account is being accessed, the first thing you should do is contact the bank. Representatives will help you file a police report.