Police warn of credit card fraud on holiday shoppers

Posted at 4:01 PM, Nov 21, 2016

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — As holiday shoppers get ready for Black Friday, so do thieves. There’s been a recent spike in credit card fraud in Battle Creek and police are asking people to keep a close on eye on their wallets and purses.

“A lot of it is just the information that they try to steal from the credit card itself,” said Emmett Township Public Safety Lt. Kenneth Cunningham.

Criminals want the magnetic information, he said, like names, birthdays and addresses. Once they have those, then they begin by making small purchases to ensure the card works.

“Once they realize it works then they’ll go back in and start buying gift cards and or something else, high-end electronics.,” said Lt. Cunningham.

They'll buy gifts worth hundreds of dollars, or open other credit cards and, in some cases, sell the items for drugs, he said. These crimes always surge during the holiday season.

“More people are using their credit cards and also they notice more when they get their credit card statements,” said Lt. Cunningham.  If they’re not using them all year long, they might not realize it.”

Lt. Cunningham recommends shoppers not wait until they get their monthly bill to report a theft or fraud. He said that's what criminals are banking on, the time between making the purchases and the date the bill arrives to the shopper's home.  When that happens, they’ve made several purchases, which makes them harder to catch.

“You’ve gotta be real quick to get the information,” said Lt. Cunningham. “The longer it goes, the hard it is.”

Checking bank accounts daily, he said, will prevent credit card theft and fraud from happening. Also, most companies offer text alerts which will send people text messages when purchases are made immediately.

“Keep your credit cards close,” said Lt. Cunningham. “If you’re in your purse or your wallet, make sure you have it. And as soon as you find out that it’s lost or missing or anything like that, contact your bank and have them cancel the card and issue new ones.”