Some customers of the Laclede Community Credit Union in Alton were checking their debit card statements recently and found charges for gas, food and other items that they didn't buy. On top of that, the stuff was bought in south Florida, but none of them had been to Florida recently. They were victims of debit/credit card fraud.
The more we use plastic to pay for stuff, the more criminals will find ways to steal our credit card numbers. Sometimes they may get the numbers by attaching a skimming device to an ATM or gas pump and sometimes they get them by hacking into a computer database.
Some financial institutions use sophisticated computer programs that analyze every purchase and flag the ones that are suspicious. If you're card's used to make an unusually large purchase, or a purchase in another country or a thousand miles from where you live, you might get a call to check on that purchase. That's the case with Liberty Bank in Alton, which recently notified a couple of customers of fraudulent activity on their debit cards. The quick action made it possible to shut down the card and stop the criminals from ripping off more businesses. The bank's efforts helped stop $150,000 in fraudulent losses last year.
If you go to swipe your card to make a purchase or insert your card in an atm and you notice that the equipment is loose or that there seems to be an extra piece that sticks out from the device, avoid the machine and report it. It may have a skimming device attached. If you find suspicious charges on your credit card statement, call police and report it to the credit card company. If you can prove they were fraudulent purchases, you don't have to pay for what the crooks bought.