Credit card scams increase during holiday season

Shoppers swipe cards at kiosks and stores as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Paige Flinchum)

Shoppers swipe cards at kiosks and stores as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Paige Flinchum)

By Paige Flinchum

The Razorback Reporter

UA student Katie Shuster was shocked when her card was declined while she tried to buy lunch two summers ago. Little did she know, her account had been hacked and all of her money had been stolen.

“I was kind of embarrassed because I know that if I am working regularly and I am keeping my bank account updated, then I know that there is not money missing,” Shuster said.

More credit card theft and scams take place during the holiday season than any other time of the year, police said. Students may take several steps to protect themselves against credit card thieves.

Sometimes people will call or email from what scammers identify as “area banks” trying to verify purchases, asking for personal information, or seeking credit card numbers to verify accounts supposedly out of concern for customers’ security, said Cpl. Jonathan Snyder of the Fayetteville Police Department.

“Most of the time these are not going to be legitimate calls and we ask that if you do get a call like to call your banking institution through a secure number that you know is a legitimate number,” Snyder said.

Thieves or scam artists also can hack store payment networks where victims shop, and once hackers gain access to any part of the network they can steal credit card information.

Shoppers should check bank accounts frequently and make sure everything looks correct, and that no unknown purchases are charged to the account, bank officials said.

“Just be aware of that and break down your trash, don’t throw out credit card receipts,” Shuster said “Make it harder for people who want to rip you off.”

Last year yielded mixed results in the fight against identity fraud, with some advances and some setbacks, according to the 2015 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research. The study found that fraudsters stole $16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. consumers in 2014.