GREENSBORO, N.C. — There were boxes full of shoes, clothes, electronics and watches stacked outside of detective Edward Bruscino Jr.’s office.
The items were thousands of dollars’ worth of seized merchandise purchased at stores in Greensboro using stolen credit cards.
“And what they’ll do is they’ll use the credit card until it is shut off by the company,” Bruscino said.
Bruscino is a detective with the Greensboro Police Department in its financial crimes unit and has been working an active skimming investigation.
Skimming is where criminals strategically place devices on card machines in stores, at ATMs, and most commonly at gas pumps to steal debit card or credit card information.
The information can then be used to make online purchases or in-store purchases using a duplicate card with the stolen information on its magnetic strip.
Bruscino says some thieves are stealing information wirelessly from gas pumps.
“It’s all Bluetooth now. So what they do is sit across the street with a laptop computer Bluetooth enabled. While you’re putting your card in, it’s reading your number,” he said.
Shoppers can protect themselves by using credit cards instead of debit cards at vulnerable locations because it has more protections in fraudulent charge cases.
Bruscino advises not using a debit card to buy gas and to look for a security sticker where the card is swiped. If it’s not present, alert a store attendant.
Another suggestion is to check the machine to see if anything appears out of place.
“Give it a little jiggle and make sure that it’s there because sometimes it will just come right off,” Bruscino said.
While typing in your pin number at an ATM, use your other hand to block any potential pinhole cameras from capturing your pin.
The Better Business Bureau also suggests businesses are proactive as well.
It monitors credit card scams, some of which could involve skimming.
“Businesses want to look and see if there are any hidden cameras that someone could have installed in ceiling tiles or near the point of sale system,” Michael Henson, director of dispute resolution at Better Business Bureau of Central North Carolina, said.
Lastly, checking your credit report and even freezing your credit are other ways to monitor and protect your credit from being compromised if thieves attain card information.