Murphy Residents Battle Credit Card Fraud
The number of Murphy residents experiencing credit card fraud continues to rise as retailers, along with many others, do their best to prevent data breaches, as well as credit card companies taking extra precautions with online and out of country purchases. Identity theft is at an all-time high in the United States with a staggering 16.7 million people affected in 2017 alone.
N.J., who resides in Murphy and wishes to remain anonymous, recently became a victim when her Wells Fargo Visa credit card was virtually stolen while still in her possession. Her personal information was used to fraudulently purchase over $2,000 in merchandise at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Murphy. One purchase was made consecutively from July 13 – 18, then one final transaction on July 23. It was only after logging on to her bank account that N.J. noticed an unusually high credit card balance and immediately realized the transactions had been made. The next step was to inform the credit card company and also file a police report. Luckily, Wells Fargo concluded she was not responsible for the fraudulent charges, cancelled her existing credit card,
then mailed a replacement.
N.J. explained, “I filed my report with Officer Beddingfield. I met him at my residence where he took down an official offense report. I submitted details of all the transactions that were fraudulent. I was informed by Lowe’s that Murphy PD paid them a visit the same day and now the department is working with Allen PD to investigate
this crime as similar incidents have happened in Allen.”
In addition, criminals have now set their sights on ATM machines using a method called “skimming.” Using several tactics, criminals capture data from the card’s magnetic stripe when customers use ATM machines. They then position cameras in inconspicuous places to capture PIN numbers being entered into the machine. Electronic data having been collected is then placed onto a fraudulent card.
Another Murphy resident, who also wishes to remain anonymous, has taken extra precautions stating, “We have a fraud alert placed on our social security numbers with each of the credit reporting agencies. This requires any creditor to take an additional step to verify it is us opening the line of credit. We also check our credit reports on a regular basis. We use only credit cards instead of debit cards, so no one has access to our checking account.”
Many steps can be taken to better protect personal information. Murphy Police Chief Arthur Cotten explained, “Credit card fraud (identity theft) is a growing crime across the country. Many ID thefts take place from people stealing your mail. Each of us receive credit card offers on a regular basis. That information contained on the letter gives an identity thief a place to start. Check your mailbox every day. When mailing letters, take them to the post office rather than placing them in your mailbox. When paying bills online, never allow the company to
store your credit card number.”
Chief Cotten went on to say, “Regularly check your credit card statements and bank account for fraudulent charges. Set up mobile banking alerts to send you a text when purchases are made. If you believe fraudulent charges have been made on your card, immediately contact your bank and place a hold on your card. Contact the location where the purchase was made. If it is a purchase that has to be shipped, you may be able to prevent any loss by canceling the order.”
Murphy resident, Jennifer Ryan, received a call from American Express regarding suspicious activity on her account. “Within a few hours I was looking at finances and also noticed a suspicious charge for $750 to my card. I went to the website where the purchase was made, and saw it was a women’s clothing store that I’d never seen. It was then that I realized someone had compromised my card,” said Ryan. “AMEX has the best customer service I’ve ever had, truly. There was a $750 charge, plus an additional pending $500 charge. AMEX reversed the charges right away, cancelled my current card, then sent me a new card out. I received the new
card within the week.”
While notifying your credit card company is crucial, it is also important to contact local law enforcement. Chief Cotten explained Murphy Police Department’s procedure for handling reports of fraud stating, “Each case is evaluated independently. If there is follow-up information the case is assigned to a detective. The detective will then take and attempt to locate a suspect. If there is enough evidence on that particular suspect, then an arrest warrant will be sought and an arrest made.”