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How to protect yourself against skimmers

Published: Jun. 1, 2016 at 7:59 PM EDT
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The Kingston Police Department arrested a couple for allegedly manufacturing around 80 counterfeit credit cards and gift cards in Kingston on May 27.

Darren Wright and Shari Williams were arrested for credit card manufacturing.

Detectives told Local 8 News that the case started from a traffic stop that led officers to the Motel 6 in Kingston. Officers say they smelled marijuana coming from the room and received consent to search the room.

Officials say during the search, they found marijuana and around 80 credit and gift cards, a card reader, a machine used to punch numbers on credit cards, and blank cards without names or numbers on them at the time.

Williams was allegedly in possession of a fake Maryland ID with the name of Amanda Piper. The name was also on numerous credit cards.

Wright and Williams are charged with criminal simulation and simple possession or casual exchange. They are being held at the Roane county Detention Facility.

Knoxville security company, Sword and Shield, say that although this is troubling, it's nothing new.

"For the past 18 months, major retailers have had credit card breaches from a digital perspective and those end up on the black market and people use those to conduct fraudulent transactions and create fake credit cards," says Bill Dean with Sword and Shield.

He says skimmers are a popular way thieves will steal your information.

"The bad guys will either come back and grab the skimming device or some of them are blue-tooth enabled. They don't even have to come back and physically get it. They can just have it transfer the credit or debit card numbers to them," he says.

Dean says when that happens, those numbers end up on the black market where people can buy them and make fraudulent credit cards.

Deans says the chip found on some new credit and debit cards can provide some protection at stores where there's a chip reader. But it doesn't work all of the time.

"If you think about it, you're not using that chip when you are doing an online transaction. So, if they can get your credit card number and get your CVV that's on the back, they can still conduct online transactions. So yes, it helps but it's not a silver bullet for all of the fraud," says Dean.

Dean's advice is to remain vigilant and look closely at where you're swiping and the websites you're using.

"If it doesn't' look right go use a different pump or go do something differently. Keep an eye on your transactions. That will keep you safe from the skimming perspective or if someone would have stolen your credit card from a merchant somehow," he says.

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