Police advise students to report incidents of credit card theft

Leighann McGivern

Kelsey Misbrener, a sophomore magazine journalism major, said she had just finished a long day of classes when she found out about a $700 unauthorized transaction on her Fifth Third Bank debit card.

Misbrener said she got a call from her mother, who said her bank called reporting suspicious activity on her account. Misbrener proceeded to call her bank’s theft hotline.

“It was like someone from the U.K. tried to buy shoes online – $700 worth of shoes,” Misbrener said. “I rarely use my card, and I rarely ever use it online.”

Misbrener’s case is not unique across the Kent campus. Michquel Penn, a Kent State police officer, said only four similar incidences have been reported to the police since 2005. She said she suspects more incidences occur but are unreported.

Misbrener admits she didn’t feel the need to contact the police when her credit card information was stolen.

“They told me I could file a police report, but all they do is like keep a huge file of that,” Misbrener said. “I imagine it’s very hard to catch these people because they’ve got to be pretty smart to be getting these numbers.”

Misbrener said she was fortunate because the $700 was never actually charged to her account.

“One of the places they tried to buy stuff from had been scammed a lot lately, so I think that they actually cut the cord on it,” Misbrener said. “Either that or the person who stole it canceled it because I never got charged that amount of money.”

Although she didn’t get charged for the $700 purchase, she was charged for another unauthorized payment of $8.

Visa Security – Tips for keeping credit card information safe

  • Monitor your credit card and account statements online on a weekly basis.
  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately and cancel all inactive accounts. When using your card at checkout, do not volunteer any personal information.
  • If you’ve applied for a new card and don’t receive it in a timely manner, or if a replacement card is not received prior to your card’s expiration date, contact your financial institution immediately. Be sure to sign new cards upon receipt, too.
  • Shred sensitive documents before disposing of them, install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers and change your passwords regularly.

“They charged a small amount first because that’s kind of like what they do to see if they can get away with it,” Misbrener said. “I really lucked out, but it was a lot of stress and waiting around.”

Penn said the majority of reported credit card thefts occur when people physically lose their credit cards or wallets.

“A lot of the times, it’s when people are a little careless as far as leaving something behind in the ATM or somebody leaving something unsecure, such as leaving their purse or wallet out,” Penn said. “That’s the majority of what you’re going to see here.”

Penn warned against students sharing their credit card information with online vendors.

“I see more people purchasing things online now than ever before,” Penn said. “If you’re going to be making purchases like that, make sure that somebody can’t view your information. If possible, if you’re able to get it otherwise — like in store — do that.”

Jordan Glutting, sophomore exploratory major, said she was a frequent online shopper before her credit card information was stolen.

“[My bank] said, ‘Well we have a 3-cent charge,’ and I didn’t really think any thing of that because it was just 3 cents,” Glutting said. “Then they were like, ‘We also want to verify a thousand-dollar purchase,’ and I just started freaking out.”

Glutting said she first thought her card was stolen when she went out the night before, but she found that it was still in her wallet.

“I was like, ‘Well I have my card right here,’ and she was like, ‘Well, somebody must have stolen it offline,” Glutting said.

Glutting said the unauthorized transaction was from South Carolina for a laptop purchase.

“They didn’t actually get my money because my bank — they thought it was a little fishy — and they stopped it,” Glutting said.

Both Misbrener and Glutting, who also uses Fifth Third Bank, said they received new card numbers and filed disputes for the money they had been charged.

Penn said she encourages students who suspect unauthorized transactions on their credit cards to inform police.

“Stop all the credit cards, call and cancel everything, call the bank and then contact the police,” Penn said.

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected].