2012-08-17 / Editorial/Opinion

Beware: Credit Card Fraud Running Rampant

At one time, you could use your credit and debit cards in local establishments and on the Internet without much fear that somebody would take your name and account and drain the accounts for all they were worth. No longer. Credit and debit card fraud have reached new heights. Just last week, two Rockaway men were busted with a large group of other Queens residents for illicitly getting credit card information, forging new cards and then sending out “shoppers” to use them all around the area. Two local banks, Citibank on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach and HSBC on Beach 116 Street were struck by “scammers,” small devices that pick up a person’s card information and transmit it to laptop computers nearby. One Wave staffer went through a period of a few days in which somebody with a phony debit card with his information went wild at a series of Target outlets in Brooklyn, running up more than $1,000 in charges, all under $50 in a two-day period. Luckily, Capitol One Bank caught the pattern and contacted the staffer. The card was cancelled before more damage could be done. Unfortunately, even though Target was told that the card was fraudulent, they kept honoring it for another day, running up hundreds of dollars more in small charges. At the end, the fraud unit at the bank did a good job and the money was returned to the staffer’s account within a week. After it happened, we found out that dozens of locals went through the same process. The consensus seemed to be that all of them had used the charge machines at a gas station on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. Be careful out there, people. There are people trying to rip you off. Use cards in outside venues only with caution. When in the bank, make sure nobody is looking at you as you input your PIN. Cover the keyboard with your other hand, because a pinhole camera may be watching. Check your account each day to make sure nobody is using it as a personal bank. If you find any anomalies, act quickly. The money you save will be your own.

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