With holiday shopping right around the corner the South Bend Police Department Fraud Investigation Unit want to remind our citizens the importance of being aware of fraud and financial criminal activity that may strike their accounts and identities; especially in this time of increased financial activity and the overwhelming need to find the better “bargain” this season.
In recent months we have seen an increase in unauthorized charges to citizens’ debit and/or credit cards. These fraudulent charges have been made by cashiers and merchants who have engaged in a practice of “double swiping” a customer’s debit and/or credit card when they are making a legitimate purchase. The cashier simply uses the victim’s card to pay for their purchase and then immediately rings up a minimal purchase and swipes their card again. The cashier will then pocket the cash from the second charge – making her account “balanced”. Doing this ten to fifteen times a shift, in small increments, can add up to hundreds of dollars a day.
While investigating these types of cases it has been found that over 90% of the affected victims never knew they had been victimized. Why - because they failed to inspect their monthly account transcripts carefully. It is not enough to just look at your statements – you must inspect each statement. Once you find a discrepancy make sure you report that IMMEDIATELY to the issuing financial institution and your local police department.
The majority of the past “double swipe” cases have been discovered by alert corporate security personnel; but in cases where victim’s inspect their accounts and identify the merchants where the discrepancies occurred in the police reports. Those cases are looked over by South Bend Police Department Fraud Investigation members and the connections can be made and we can work with those corporate security personnel so that they can internally identify the suspects liable for this criminal activity, give us the evidence we need, and the violators can be prosecuted.
We ask you to be vigilant, know what happens to your debit and/or credit card when it leaves your hands. Understand that cash registers and point of sale devices are machines, they have errors, and sometimes it is necessary to “swipe your card again” to properly process your transactions. This does not mean every cashier has ulterior motives; the majority are there to serve you and bring home an honest wage for their family. What you should do is make sure that you inspect your monthly bill, know what you spent, and match that with what has been processed through your accounts.
In the long run your increased awareness and knowledge of what you spend and accounting for what is documented not only will help you avoid becoming an unwanted victim; but you might become more accountable for your own spending habits and when we raise accountability and knowledge on our spending habits we tend to find ways to trim our spending – and that has to be a positive.