Police warn of credit card scammers at gas pumps, ATM machines - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police warn of credit card scammers at gas pumps, ATM machines

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -

Many people don't think twice when swiping their credit cards, but police are warning the public that thieves are stealing account information at places like ATM machines and gas pumps.

Cleveland Police say "credit card skimming" is a tough crime to solve, but there are things to look out for to avoid becoming a victim.

"The damage can be done to your card, to your account, long before you ever know it happens," said Detective Matt Jenkins.

According to Jenkins, multiple suspects appear to be stopping in stores along I-75, from Bradley County through North Georgia, buying pre-loaded gift cards with other people's account information.

The thieves don't need to steal your actual card -- they just need you to swipe it.

A card skimmer device can be installed on any machine's card reader. It rips your number from the magnetic strip to load onto the magnetic strip of any other card.

"If you see a card reader that looks different, I probably wouldn't use that (gas) pump," Jenkins advised.

New bank cards, embedded with a microchip, are designed to help fight fraud like card skimming.

On October 1, merchants without chip terminals started becoming liable for bank fees involving counterfeit cards used at their location.

"Not all places have these machines at this point," said Cheryl Smith, a server at Merv's Restaurant.

Merv's started using a chip reading machine over the summer.

"You do have to leave the card in for the entire process," Smith explained. "In the beginning, people were unfamiliar with the chip, so they would slide their card, but then it would indicate you have to insert it in the front."

While the new process takes a few extra seconds, she explains it helps crack down on identity theft.
 
"The crime has long since happened before you ever see it," Jenkins said.

Police say the illegal transactions are happening at many of the same stores. Ones in our area include Home Depot, Lowe's, CVS, and Walgreens.

If you notice anyone suspicious that is using multiple credit cards to buy pre-loaded gift cards, you're asked to call local police.

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