SPECIAL REPORT: Credit Card Theft in The Valley

Millions of people are working to repair credit that may have been breached, while recently shopping at major retailers; highlighting the growing problem of credit cards thefts across the country, and here in the Valley.

(MGN Online)

Security Tips:

- Check Statements

- Keep receipts

- Check credit report

- Cancel credit cards if you notice strange activity

- Sign up for credit monitoring


HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Think of how many times you swiped your credit card today. Maybe once at lunch, once on the way to work to fill up with gas, and another time to pay your electric bill. That is three different times your credit card information was shared in one day. Unfortunately James Ibarra's information was shared with the wrong person, a criminal.

"I was kind of puzzled, like how would they get your credit card information," said Ibarra

Ibarra doesn't know how or why his credit card was used in France and Turkey, but he knows he wasn't in either of those places.

"You wouldn't think it would be used in another country but yeah it was nerve racking," said Ibarra.

Credit card theft is more common than you think. Sgt. Brian Edwards with the Waynesboro Police Department said your chances of being a victim of a violent crime is slim, compared to credit card theft.

"It is almost being the new normal," said Sergeant Edwards

Edwards said most cases investigated in Waynesboro are because people left their wallets laying around, giving someone enough time to copy your information. In other cases, the Internet could be to blame; including the recent massive security breaches at stores, leading to millions of numbers stolen.

"Using your credit card online it is kind of a gamble no matter what,' said Internet security expert Stacy Moomaw.

Moomaw said the Internet is an easy way for hackers to get information. They can download malware onto someone's computer, and collect all the information off a store's database and off your computer.

For stores, malware is taking information off their databases; a gold mine for cyber criminals wanting a credit card to buy something, without using their own money.

"The significant breaches at the retailers where pretty much no local law enforcement agency and to some degree federal and national agencies are kind of hamstrung," said Edwards.

So should we abandon all credit and debit cards, and use cash? We called several banks, and many experts say using your credit card is safer. This is because you have the credit card transactions going through a system, plus with many cards you are not liable for fraudulent purchases. Edwards said carrying around cash, isn't safe either because if someone steals it, there is no way to get your money back.

"Financial institutions and retailers are going to be the ones that have to make the big changes," said Sergeant Edwards.

Whether that is changing magnetic strips or improving internet security software. In the meantime, it is important to check your statements, and save your receipts.

2013 Credit Card Thefts Reported

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