Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Matthew Wade said at least five people have reported fraudulent credit card charges over the last several weeks, typically with multiple charges in other areas of the country.
“People are saying they’re seeing charges being used in other places,” Wade said. “But they still have their debit cards.”
Wade said the cases have been spread throughout the county including reports from residents in Piedmont, Jacksonville and Anniston. The Sheriff’s Office has reported all its cases to the U.S. Secret Service.
The recent rash of cases is similar to previous credit card fraud outbreaks in the county, Wade said. The chief deputy said investigators are trying to pinpoint a common location where all individuals used their credit or debit cards.
“Last time we had all these cases, there was a hotel in Oxford we looked at,” Wade said. “But we were never able to prove anything, we never had a suspect.”
Wade said earlier this week a man in Jacksonville reported a charge on his card in Florida.
“But he’d never been to Florida,” Wade said. “He didn’t know anybody in Florida.”
Investigators suspect that card information is stolen in one location and given or sold to other regions to spread out activity, Wade said. The fraud is especially hard to track because individuals who steal information can create new debit or credit cards with their own names on them.
“So even if someone says, ‘I need to see some ID with that purchase,’ their ID matches the credit card they’re using,” Wade said. “But the card information still belongs to the person whose information it’s from.”
Wade said because the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t know how or where identity thieves are stealing the information, it’s hard to tell residents how to keep themselves protected from fraud.
Wade said investigators suspect more residents have had their information stolen, but haven’t come forward to report the crime to law enforcement.
“Most of these cases are about $100,” Wade said. “That’s still a crime, but the banks are just paying them back and they’re done with it.”
Investigators are asking anyone with fraudulent credit card charges to contact local law enforcement to make a report.
“We need all that information to help us,” Wade said. “We need to be able to track it.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.