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How thieves clone your credit cards

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RIVERVIEW, FL (WFLA) -

The Target security breach last year proved just how widespread and simple it can be to clone credit card information.

A Riverview couple knows firsthand what a pain it can be when your cards get compromised. Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account.

"A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."

Just a few weeks later her boyfriend, Jerry Hines, found out his debit card number had been stolen too. "I got a call from my security from my bank telling me I need to call them back that I had a problem. The lady said we think there's been fraud on your card."

They suspect it happened at one of the gas stations near their home where crooks perhaps used a skimming device to hijack their debit card information. "It had to be at one of the gas stations cause everywhere else we use it is indoors," said Hines.

The cloning of credit and debit cards is nothing new, but it does seem to be happening more often. Even Sri Sridharan has fallen victim and he is the head of the Cyber Security Department at the University of South Florida.

His credit card was used at a Pep Boys in Atlanta. He did not have to pay the $900 involved but says we all pay for this crime in the form of higher fees.

Sridharan explains that once crooks have your credit or debit card information, they can simply make a new card using something as basic as an old hotel room key. That's because of the magnetic strip on the back. Until a more secure technology is adopted, he says everyone's cards are ripe for the picking.

"Many people are consumed by these frequent flier points that they can get by using credit card. They want to use it for $2 at a convenience store. You don't know who the guy is behind the counter. He may have bad intentions of using your credit card number," said Sridharan.

Here are some 8 on your side tips to help you protect yourself-

  • Keep the number of credit cards you have to a minimum.
  • Periodically ask to have your old credit card replaced. 
  • Keep tabs on your credit card activity on line and set up alerts on your account so you know immediately if someone is using your number.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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