Credit card fraud and identity theft: it's a growing problem according to the Walton County Sheriff's Office. They urge you to learn the facts towards protecting yourself.
The Thursday arrest of three for credit card fraud off i-10 brought light to the growing problem in Florida. It's not just a crime for tech wizards anymore.
Once thought to be a crime for the mastermind, these days Walton County Sheriff's Sergeant, Billy Dozier, said accessing private information is common place.
"If you have Internet access, you can actually purchase account information over the Internet," said Dozier.
Thursday, the Sheriff's Office said those arrested were in the possession of more than 20 fraudulent credit cards.
"Later on in the investigation we located an encoder in the back of the car, which is a piece of machinery used to change the information on the magnetic strip," said Dozier.
It's getting even easier for scammers to get your credit card information, whether you're at a store, an ATM, or even a gas station. Just one quick swipe of your card and punch of your code and all your information can be right at a stranger's fingertips.
"There's a huge market for it and there's a lot of money to be made if they get your identity, so unfortunately we need to stay vigilant and protect ourselves," said Karen Szulczewski from the Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida.
Szulczewski explained that skimmers can actually be placed on credit card readers, sending your information straight to scammers without your knowledge.
"It's organized crime, it's gang members, and they are very methodical in how they collect this information and then sell it on the black market," said Szulczewski.
So what can you do?
The BBB suggests:
- Checking card readers for any loose pieces or wires that might show it's been tampered with.
- Always cover your keypad when entering your pin to block potential surveillance.
- Go to ATMs you are familiar with.
- Change your pin number every few month.
- If all else fails, pay with cash.
These tips can mean the difference between a simple tank of gas and an identity theft mess.