Wadsworth police have received several reports of unauthorized credit card use within the last week.
In an email, Lt. Dave Dorland said each transaction took place in a different state and the department is “unsure” how consumer information was breached, but it could have been due to:
- Common point of purchase. In this type of case, a business does not have adequate software or network protection and someone has hacked into a system. “There does not appear to be a common point of purchase among the victims at this time,” Dorland said.
- Credit card skimmer. A skimmer is a device attached to a credit card machine that captures card information as the machine is used. “We would expect to see a lot more victims if there was a skimmer located in Wadsworth,” the lieutenant said.
- Theft of the credit card. The victims — seven this week — reported having their cards in their possession and do not believe anyone recorded information from their accounts, Dorland said. When this happens, criminals create a “cloned” card that will copy the stolen information onto another bank card, which can be used at a business.
Dorland said consumers should monitor accounts and contact their financial institution if they see any unfamiliar transactions. He noted that some banks allow signing up for credit/debit card “activity alerts.”
If a card has a chip, Dorland encourages it be used instead of swiping the card.
When visiting another country, do not use a credit card that is attached to your direct bank account, Dorland advised.
“This way, if your card information is compromised, the immediate loss will be to the credit card company and you will not have to wait to get reimbursed for money missing from your personal bank account,” he said.
Dorland said consumers may check their credit at annualcreditreport.com, which can be used free once every 12 months.
The credit check covers all three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
Dorland said if credit card information is stolen, consumers should report the theft to local police if the financial institution requires it to be done or if the card was used at a local business.
“A lot of the time, with cloned cards, they are used in other parts of the country or online, which police are rarely able to successfully investigate,” he said.
If the card information is used “relatively locally,” he said, authorities are “better able” to investigate.
Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.