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Bozeman Police Captain gives tips to protect yourself from credit card theft

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Posted at 5:48 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 19:48:20-04

BOZEMAN — If you’re getting gas and the card scanner looks a little bit suspicious, you may be in danger of having your credit card information stolen—which happens more than you may think.

“Most recently we did have an investigation that involved tens of thousands of dollars,” says Bozeman Police Captain Joe Swanson.

Swanson has seen many cases of stolen credit cards. Just over a week ago, a man was accused of using stolen credit cards at multiple stores downtown. The alleged thief spent over $50,000 on Rolex watches alone. How he got these stolen credit cards is still under investigation, but this crime is not out of the ordinary.

Watch previous coverage: Man accused of multiple fraudulent purchases in Bozeman

Man accused of multiple fraudulent purchases at Bozeman shops

“We do have a number of other cases that occur each week,” says Captain Swanson.

He tells me although not every credit card theft leads to tens of thousands of dollars lost, smaller criminal transactions occur all the time. One of the main ways credit card information is stolen? Tampered card readers at gas stations.

I asked some folks pumping gas if they ever check for card skimmers. Many told me they don’t check. One man even said, “I dont. I should, but I wouldn’t even know what to look for”.

Captain Swanson says, “There’s security tags, or tape, that are over the keypads or the credit card readers. If those look like they’ve been damaged, or say the device looks loose, like there could be another device placed over on top of the credit card reader. Those are things people should key in on and say, ‘That could be an issue.’”

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Swanson tells me another popular way card information is stolen, “A lot of the ones we do see is on the internet. Only use trusted websites, places that appear legitimate. Maybe do a little bit of research if it's a new company.”

So what are some ways you can protect your business from being a victim of credit card fraud?

“Take a little bit of extra time. Look at the credit card and ensure, one, it belongs to that individual. You can always ask for identification. And, just looking at the card just to ensure, ok, does it look like cards I’ve seen before,” says Captain Swanson.

He also suggests if you suspect fraudulent activity to either call the bank the card belongs to or call a non-emergency police number. Captain Swanson says with summer coming up, there will be an influx of people in Bozeman, which gives more opportunity for credit card theft.

“The best advice we give anyone, frequently check your accounts. See if your card issuer offers free credit monitoring. Those are all things, that proactiveness of looking, and if anything does look suspicious, immediately reporting it,” says Captain Swanson.