Crime Trend: Crooks cloning credit cards
Right now, thieves are secretly slipping into wallets all over the Bay area. You won't know your credit card has been cloned until it's too late.
"You worry about it every time you swipe the card," says shopper Diane Nielsen.
Investigators from Brandenton to Hernando County are on the hunt for wanted credit card cloning criminals.
The Hernando County Sheriff's Office is searching for a pair who used a cloned credit card at Walmart on Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville.
CLICK HERE: Information on Hernando suspects
A man who used a cloned credit card at Winn-Dixie in Spring Hill.
CLICK HERE: More on Spring Hill suspect
And another man who used a cloned credit card at a Spring Hill Circle K.
CLICK HERE: Information on Circle K suspect
Further south in Bradenton, police are searching for a couple who has a cloned card from a woman in Cocoa. They've used it 9 times, including at the Cortez Road Walmart.
"The more electronic we get the more you worry," says Nielsen.
"It can ruin someone's life," says Capt. William Fowler from the Bradenton Police Department.
Bradenton police say the couple went on quite a shopping spree with the Cocoa woman's credit, buying Xbox accessories, a phone card, USB drive and seafood. All without the victim even knowing her debit card number had been stolen.
WHAT TO DO: Ways to prevent fraud
"Get a job! We all have to work for it, so get a job and pay your own bills," Nielsen says. She had her information stolen, and even police aren't protected from card cloning thieves.
"Three months ago, I had someone get a hold of my debit card number. All I did is use it to pay for parking," says Fowler.
University of South Florida Cybersecurity expert Dr. Grandon Gill believes that in the next year more companies will move to using encrypted cards with chips and pin numbers, so even if hackers copy your magnetic strip with account information, the counterfeit card is basically useless.
Until then, Gill urges everyone to keep a close eye on cards, statements, and machines that could be rigged with skimmers.
"I usually just use cash because God forbid if someone got my number," says shopper Keira Lapiskey.