Prosecutors: Thieves out to steal shoppers' credit, debit card information

Officials say thieves will be trying to use skimming devices to capture your card numbers and potentially clean out your accounts
November 27, 2013 3:23:23 PM PST
Holiday shoppers beware: Thieves are getting more creative when it comes to fooling you into handing over your account information, and ultimately your identity.

The holiday shopping season is one of the busiest times of year. And prosecutors here say it can also be a dangerous time of year for those using credit and debit cards.

It's about that time when many folks will be hitting the stores. Out and about picking up gifts for their family and friends.

"We're going to be busy. We do a lot of shopping," holiday shopper Kari Kobal said.

But before you get too busy swiping your credit and debit cards, Harris County prosecutors are warning: Thieves will be watching and waiting for a chance to use skimming devices like this to capture your card numbers and potentially clean out your accounts.

"It's a virtual certainty that these rings will be operating during the holiday season," said Ed McClees, chief of the Organized Crime Division at Harris County District Attorney's Office.

McClees says theft rings will be using small, battery powered credit card skimming devices like these in retail shops and restaurants when consumers least expect.

"The crook will give the skimming device to a crooked waiter or bartender and will offer that person a certain amount of money per credit card that that person skims," McClees said.

McClees says the skimming devices are designed to read and store numbers and all information pulled from a card's magnetic strip.

The Kobal family says it's concerned learning criminals could then take that stolen information to duplicate a fake credit card.

"Well that's really scary considering we don't really watch that kind of stuff," Kobal said.

Prosecutors say the best way to protect yourself from this skimming scheme this holiday is use cash whenever possible and constantly check your account statements.

Prosecutors say if you think your card's been compromised, immediately call police.

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