By JESSIE HORTON
ERATH COUNTY (June 22, 2016) – Despite numerous reports and complaints on local social media sites, both the Erath County Sheriff’s Office and the Stephenville Police Department say they have not received any reports of ‘skimmers’ in Erath County (as of 11 a.m. Wednesday morning).
“We haven’t taken any reports of any incidents like that here,” said Lt. Doug McClammy with the Stephenville PD. “But I have heard of a report at the Racetrack in Granbury.”
Chief Deputy Jason Upshaw with the ECSO said the county hasn’t taken any reports either, but wanted to remind all residents to be on the lookout for suspicious card readers or activity on their accounts.
While neither law enforcement agency has gotten any reports, on Facebook local residents have made several statements about incidents similar to the confirmed case in Granbury.
“A word of warning to everyone: my debit card info was stolen and used today in another state. I have used the ATM by Tractor Supply many times with no issues before, but that’s the only one I’ve used lately,” Misty Baker wrote on Tuesday. “I don’t know for sure that that’s where it was taken, but people need to be aware. Now my family is in a bind, and all I can do is wait and see what happens. So, be cautious! Hopefully the people responsible will be caught, but I’m not counting on it.”
Another resident reported more than $80 taken from a debit card and spent on “internet games in a matter of hours.” Others reported significantly larger sums of money taken.
“Used my debit card at HEB yesterday and received a fraud alert from USAA about fraudulent activity on my checking account in another state when I got home. Thankfully USAA caught it and froze my account and the money I was out was put back in my account, but it was a lot of money,” writes Steve Geer to Erath County Breaking News. “The fraudulent activity took place in Minnesota at a store called Gas Mart, Stars BP and First Stop. I tried to call HEB to let them know but know one answered. I also called SPD to let them know. I told them I was worried that someone else was going to get hit too. Also there was an older gray haired guy standing very close to me when I was checking out at HEB. I thought the guy was a little off in the head but given this has happened to others I’m skeptical. BE AWARE and report any type of crime like this to the police. If they don’t know about it they can’t do anything to stop it.”
Others reported their money was spent a little closer to home.
“My daughter got wiped out a couple of weeks ago,” reported Kerri Mallow. “She had used her card several places between Dublin and Stephenville. This is just getting out of hand. Something needs to be done.”
“Ours was stolen on Sunday,” wrote Katie Southall on Wednesday morning. “Luckily our bank caught it and put the money back and called us immediately. Said someone had duplicated our card and had gone to Target on a shopping spree in Arlington.”
Stephenville PD’s McClammy said residents should always be aware of the card readers on devices and use cashiers and tellers when possible.
“It’s our understanding that the devices criminals use to take card information slide over the card readers already in place and it changes the appearance of the device,” he explained. “If you notice the reader is difference or if it appears there is a cover over the keypad, don’t use that reader and report it both to the store and to the police department immediately.”
Pay attention to your accounts as the fastest way to detect if you’ve been ’skimmed’ is through your bank and credit card companies who have active fraud detection policies in place to protect you and them. Remember – if anything doesn’t feel right about the ATM or the card reader DO NOT — USE IT.
If you have Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay, use them! These services expose your information less and if information is taken it is only a virtual card number, not your personal one. And whenever you can, use the chip instead of the strip on your card.
Always report suspicious activity to your company or bank and to the local police department.