Officials open investigation into ETX credit and debit card fraud
VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -
Van Zandt County authorities said they are looking into multiple cases of credit and debit card fraud, all with ties back here to East Texas.
Over the last few weeks, multiple residents in Van Zandt, Smith and Henderson counties have reported compromised cards. Authorities said they are now trying to pinpoint exactly where it started. They are asking consumers to be careful about where you swipe.
"Watch the attendant swipe the card," said Van Zandt County Precinct 4 Chief Deputy Constable Bob Keltner. "Make sure it's only going through one device. Any time your card is not in your possession, there's a potential for it to be compromised."
Keltner said at least five cases have been reported. In all of them, the card numbers were stolen and then used to purchase items online.
"We're talking thousands and thousands of dollars," he said. "Once they were compromised, they were fraudulently used from coast to coast, primarily online. That's a significant amount of money."
One tip from authorities is to keep your eyes open at the gas pump. Pumps have compartments that should be locked or sealed near the keypad where you insert your card. If it is open or looks suspicious, they recommend using another pump or going inside and paying with cash.
Keltner also recommends keeping separate checking accounts, only transferring money you need to the account tied to your debit card.
"There's only so much you can do to protect yourself," he said. "But any little thing you can do to protect yourself, you should do.
Investigators said they are now looking at similarities in victims' purchases, hoping to find the culprit.
"It's a felony to compromise or fraudulently obtain credit card information," Keltner said. "There are more East Texans affected and we'd just like to hear from them because we'd like to pinpoint if possible where these offenses occurred and hopefully bring that to an abrupt stop."
The Van Zandt County Constable's Office, Pct. 4 has now set up an email address and phone number for residents to report any fraudulent activity. If you believe you have been a victim, call (903) 833-5705 or send them an email.