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Credit card fraud and the holidays

Lawton_Stealing someone's identity is easy to do, but the damage that is done can take years for the victim to repair.  The thief can go through your trash and take discarded credit card receipts to use the account numbers, or a dishonest clerk uses an extra imprint from a charge card to make a purchase.  This fraud costs card holders millions of dollars each year.

Police say that credit card fraud increases during the holidays as people use their cards more often. In Comanche County from January to November this year, Comanche County's credit card fraud reports have increased on a monthly basis.  Victim Chris Corral said, "They told me all the recent charges that had been made-and there was some outrageous-over-$200 charge that I didn't even authorize."

Lawton Police Detective Brent Yarbrough said obtaining that credit card number is easy.  One way is by "shoulder surfing." "You've got the low-tech methods where someone is looking over your shoulder, and they are able to memorize your expiration date along with the number of your credit card," explained Yarbrough.

Then there is the growing trend of obtaining the credit card information while shoppers use the internet. "You never know they are capturing each and every stroke of the key, especially on the number side of things where you use that credit card," according to Yarbrough.  That is how Corral thinks he became a victim.  "I was just trying to finish up my Christmas shopping, buy the last couple of presents.  And I can't think where they would have gotten it because I try to get on secured websites to make sure that does not happen."

Yarbrough stresses that even if the company's web page notes shopping is secure, no transaction on the computer is fraud-proof. "You're going to have a human somewhere in this transaction that's going to be able to look at that information."  He adds that you do not know from the beginning if your computer is safe from hackers.

The detective says in most cases, credit card companies will reimburse the holder where fraudulent charges are concerned, but the user must inform the company as soon as a problem is discovered.  Corral said, "I didn't even know anything happened.  My credit card company from my bank called me at home and told me there had been some irregular activity on my account."  Yarbrough says credit card fraud cases are hard to prosecute as the suspects can operate outside of the U.S.  Corral's charges to his card were made at a Walgreen's in Puerto Rico.

Police urge people to carry only the cards they intend to use that day and leave the rest at home.   

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