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Holiday scams surfacing

Published 11:33am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CPD received three reports last week of people’s debit card information being used in another state while the victims still had the cards in their possession–resulting in the combined loss of about $5,000.

Identity thieves are the likely culprits.

“Identity thieves are able to use a small scanner that will read your debit card information while in your purse or wallet,” Bland said. “They then take this information and put it on a gift card and that gift card will now act like your debit card.”

Places to be especially careful are crowded stores and malls, where there are many people around and identity thieves can walk close to you without it seeming out of the ordinary.

One form of protection is a metal wallet or sleeve for carrying debit and credit cards. The metal prevents the cards from being scanned.

Also, “skimming” devices can be installed on fuel pumps and ATMs to snag important information when cards are swiped.

“If there is a particular ATM you use a lot, and it looks like something bulky has been added to the outside of it, just be wary of that,” Bland said.

Information about avoiding becoming the victim of a scam or identity theft is available at Clanton Police Department, 601 First Ave., Clanton.

“I’ve taught classes about identity theft, and I’ve told people that it’s more the younger group and the older group that are preyed upon,” Bland said. “But here lately, it’s just all over the place. It doesn’t matter anymore who you are and what your age group is.”

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