When Linda Horner stopped for a fill-up at a local gas station May 1, she paid for her purchase at the pump with a credit card, never realizing she was about to become the victim of credit card theft.
“On May 10, I got a message from Visa’s Fraud Department to call them,” she said. “They told me my credit card had been compromised.”
According to Horner, Visa speculated that her credit card number might have been magnetically “skimmed” at the pump.
“I rarely use my credit card for anything,” she said. “I was stunned this could happen.”
Thus began the long, arduous task of reviewing all the fraudulent charges and differentiating them from any legitimate ones.
There were plenty of charges to review, including myriad purchases from Netflix and Best Buy. Additionally, the thief also had a taste for fine eateries.
“There were several charges for nice restaurants,” Horner said. “They pretty much ordered everything online they could.”
Horner also filled out a report with the Greensburg Police Department, which, she said, will aid her in refuting the fraudulent charges. Visa has voided the old card and issued Horner a new one, but moving forward, she anticipates paying for gas in cash.
“I have to sign affidavits stating that the phony charges aren’t mine,” she explained. “I’m still not through with all that, and not sure when I will be. It’s been a nightmare.”
The day after the call from Visa, Horner also went to the gas station to discuss the incident with a manager.
“The lady standing beside the manager was also an employee.” she explained. “She said the same thing had happened to a man the week before.”
“I can’t helping thinking,” she continued, “if it happens that often, why don’t they watch the surveillance cameras? Then again, what do I know about catching a thief?”
Horner did some internet research on the issue too, discovering, she said, that credit card skimming is happening “epidemic style” all over.
“It happens a lot at gas stations and ATM’s,” she said.
Greensburg Police Chief Stacey Chasteen didn’t agree that skimming is a rampant problem in Greensburg.
“I’ve read our responding officer’s report in this case,” Chasteen said. “According to the information in that report, Visa only speculated that Mrs. Horner might have been the victim of credit card skimming, but skimming wasn’t confirmed.”
The Chief added she thinks its possible Horner’s number was stolen some other way.
“We see, on average, about three cases of credit card scamming per week,” she added.
Still, the chief conceded that it’s wise for credit and debit card users to be ever vigilant in using their cards.
“A credit card skimmer,” the chief explained, “looks like a normal credit card slot. Thieves buy them and place them over the normal slot reader — be it at a gas station or an ATM or elsewhere. People unknowingly swipe their cards in the skimmers and just like that, thieves get their numbers.”
She continued, “It’s important for people to be mindful of the machine they’re using, to be familiar with what it normally looks like. If it seems different, especially if the reader slot seems like its been replaced or tampered with, don’t use it. Instead, go talk to the attendant. If you’re using an ATM, call the manager of the bank.”
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011