In Your Corner: Credit Card Theft

By Ryan Elijah

June 18, 2010 Updated Sep 4, 2009 at 4:05 AM EDT

A little over 4 months ago, Ryan Elijah received a phone call from Discover Financial Services asking if his wife was in Taylor, Michigan. She wasn't, but her credit card had been used 2 times at 2 different Meijer locations. The charges totaled 246 dollars and a 3rd attempt was denied by Discover. Those charges were made even though the actual card was in her purse.
Detective David Ladig, Fort Wayne Police Department said "We don't know how they got your information, it certainly sounds like a cloned card"
Detective Ladig has seen it all when it comes to credit card and identity theft. Once the information from your magnetic strip on your card is stolen, it can be reproduced on another card, a card that may or may not have your name on it. As a consumer it's very difficult to protect your card, small portable devices called "ripper's" allow someone to swipe your card's information despite only having it for a short period of time. Even if you're being careful, a retailer might not be, A U.S. Secret service agent told us that millions of credit card numbers were at risk from activity over the past 12 months. Just a few weeks ago, that news broke when 11 were charged with stealing 41-million credit card numbers from major retailers like Office Max, Barnes and Noble and TJ Maxx. Those numbers are often sold in secondary markets and cloned for use around the country.
Detective Ladig "we had some people in a local hotel that were passing cards. They had cloned credit cards and they literally had 2 garbage bags full of credit cards, they had come down from Florida.
The thieves that charged Ryan's account used more than one credit card and it was all caught on Meijer's surveillance video. A complaint with the Taylor Police Department, they found that 2 black men in their early 20's had used the card. Our goal was to air the faces and maybe in a remote chance a viewer would recognize a face. After about 20 phone calls, it was clear that wasn't going to happen
The Taylor Police department forwarded that surveillance tape to the Secret Service, they wanted to see if the 2 individuals on the tape were involved in a ring they were investigating, it turns out they were not. When we contacted Meijer to get a copy of the tape, they told us it was corporate policy to not release video to anyone other than law enforcement.
Even though it was Meijer's self checkout lane that approved the card, the credit card companies get stuck with the bill, not the retailers. Ultimately it is the consumer that pays the price for the billions stolen each year through credit card fraud. Unless the theft involves thousands of dollars or more, retailers and credit card companies simply don't have enough incentive to pursue the crimes. These tips will tip the odds in your favor, always keep your card in sight whenever possible, don't be afraid to ask about multiple swipes and never use your credit card on an unsecured site or give out the number on your cell phone, a pre-paid credit car is also a great way to protect yourself. Tonight at Five we'll talk with prosecutors and police and see why it's difficult for them to pursue a suspect, even if the crime is caught on tape.

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