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Western Virginia
BBB Alert: Two Charged in Credit Card Forgery Operation
July 02, 2014

Roanoke, VA  – Roanoke County Police have charged two Florida men with Felony charges after a discovery of counterfeiting equipment inside a Roanoke County apartment complex. According to warrants, authorities seized upwards of 3,700 blank credit cards from the apartment. It’s possible the men were using card skimming to steal credit card information to produce counterfeit credit cards.

Card skimming is a crime that involves the, ‘skimming’ or stealing of information implanted in a card’s magnetic strip. A criminal attaches a device at the mouth of a card-acceptance slot that records the data on your card as you slide it in. The criminal then returns to the ATM or gas pump at a later time to collect the device containing all of the stolen account information or in some cases has the information sent to them wirelessly via text message.

While the investigation is ongoing and officials are still trying to determine the extent and size of the operation, BBB offers the following tips to protect against credit card skimming:

  • Use your credit card at the gas pump instead of your debit card. This way, if you become victimized you haven’t lost the money directly. You can contact your credit card company and they will get the fraudulent charges removed.
  • Avoid using ATMs that are not located at a bank. These ATMs are often less secure so thieves have more opportunity to tamper with them.
  • Look closely at the machine you are putting your card into. If it appears compromised in any way, (i.e. plastic sticking out, anything out of the ordinary attached) do not use it.
  • If your card gets stuck in machine, do not leave the area. Call your bank right away and report the issue.
  • Monitor your accounts daily for any fraudulent activity. The sooner you detect fraud, the better off you will be at resolving it quickly and keeping it from continuing.


BBB tips for effective credit card fraud prevention:

  • Regularly check your credit card and bank statements for unfamiliar or unauthorized transactions.
  • Sign your card immediately when you receive it in the mail.
  • Carry only the cards you expect to use, and keep them secure.
  • Secure, in your home, other cards you may not regularly use.
  • Keep a list of account and telephone numbers for your card issuers in case your cards are lost or stolen. Once you report the loss or theft, you will not be liable for unauthorized charges. Keep a copy of this list both at home and at your work.
  • Notify your card issuer(s) in advance if you have a change of address.
  • Notify your card issuer(s) in advance if you plan to travel outside the US and use the credit card.
  • Do not give your cards to anyone.
  • Keep your pass code and personal pin number secure. Do not put it in writing and do not share it with anyone.
  • Use only reputable companies with secure websites for online shopping.
  • Email is not secure. Never include your credit card number (or SS Number) in an email.
  • Shred all paper documents containing your personal identifiers (account number, name, address) before disposing.
  • When you are expecting a new or replacement credit card or debit card, look for it in the mail.

If your card has been stolen or if you have noticed fraudulent charges on any accounts, BBB offers the following advice to resolve the issue as quickly as possible:

Step One: Contact the Issuer.
Credit card issuers typically have a 24-hour hotline for consumers to report fraud and theft. By law, a consumer’s maximum liability is $50 per credit card; once they have reported a loss or theft of a credit card to the issuer, consumers have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. If the fraud involves a person’s credit card number, but not the card itself, the consumer has no liability for unauthorized use. If an ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, the amount of money someone could lose depends on how quickly they alert the issuer – if they wait too long, they could lose everything in the account.

Step Two: Contact the Authorities.
If a credit or debit card has been stolen or if the consumer has noticed fraudulent charges on their account, they can file a report with the local police. The consumer will want to get a copy of the police report to confirm the nature of the fraudulent charges with the issuer and the credit reporting bureaus, and should file reports with the Federal Trade Commission online.

Step Three: Contact Credit Reporting Bureaus.
There are three credit bureaus that monitor activity on consumer credit accounts: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The three bureaus can flag, or place an alert on an account for fraudulent activity, which then requires that they contact the cardholder before any new lines of credit are opened. Consumers can also ask to have an account frozen – which means their credit history can’t be reviewed by lenders and prevents new lines of credit from being opened – but keep in mind it may take several days to unfreeze accounts in the future.

Step Four: Stay Vigilant.
It’s a good idea for consumers to follow up calls to their credit card issuer or credit reporting bureaus with a letter outlining key details and summarizing when they alerted the issuer and bureau to the loss or fraud. As a victim of ID theft, consumers can receive a copy of their report free-of-charge and should review credit reports with all three bureaus for any suspicious activity. Lastly, it is important that consumers continue to keep a close eye on their credit card statements, bank accounts, and credit reports well into the future for any suspicious activity.

For more trustworthy advice on identity theft and fraud prevention visit BBB on the Web at: www.bbb.org. To check a credit report or report identity fraud, following is contact information for the three credit bureaus that monitor activity on consumer credit accounts:

Important Contact Info:
Equifax
888-766-0008
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, Ga. 30374
www.equifax.com

Experian
888-397-3742
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, Texas 75013
www.experian.com

TransUnion
800-680-7289
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, Pa. 19022
www.transunion.com

 BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and 11,000 charities, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.

If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org.  Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BBBWesternVA and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BBBWesternVA.