With a simple swipe of her debit card Nelson’s information was stolen. She purchased gas at the Shell station at 21st and 21st in Sugar House and less than 24 hours later someone in China was trying to make a huge purchase.
"Once that information is out there that information is sold to crooks,” explained Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen.
First it was little charges; two for $1.63, then one in Joppa, Illinois for $8.92 and finally an attempted charge of $127,262.27 at Hotels.com in China.
Torgensen says someone had likely used a skimming devise on the gas pump to steal my information.
"It's just a devise that crooks will put into a machine and that little devise is a skimmer,” explained Torgensen. “So when you put your card in what it does is it reads all of your information."
Often times you won't even know it's there. The skimmers don't look any different than a regular card scanner and most of the time the establishment doesn't know their credit systems have been compromised. Luckily Chase Bank caught it quick and stopped the transactions before they were charged, but had the sum been a little more reasonable, it may have made it through.
Torgensen said, “You can do everything right and you can be a victim. I've been a victim of identify theft four or fives occasions and I can tell you it's not because of something I’ve done wrong."
Still Torgensen said it would have been better if Nelson would have used a credit card, that way the thieves didn’t have access to her banking account and all her money. Credit card companies do a really good job of protecting their money from thieves and thus better protection for the consumer.
He suggests anyone who falls victim to identity thieves should put notify all three credit bureaus and request a fraud alert. He even suggests freezing all credit that way no one can open an account or take a loan out under the victim’s name. Torgensen says most importantly a victim needs to monitor all their accounts to make sure they’re not victimized again.
For more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft log on to www.idtheft.gov