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Identity theft still an issue with chip-card readers, authorities say

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by: WFTV

Florida – Credit card companies are still in the process of rolling out the new technology that consumers were told would better protect them from fraud.

Investigative reporter Daralene Jones in Florida, uncovered a flaw that’s still has law enforcement agencies trying to process hundreds of cases every month.

Maria O’Brien works hard for her money, and watches her finances carefully. Nearly everyone with a credit or debit card now has a chip on the card.

“I started seeing random purchases.” O’Brien told Jones.

That’s why she quickly caught a string of unusual transactions that popped up on her bank statement.

“There were purchases from North Carolina, places we haven’t been,” O’Brien said.

The purchases were on her new card that has the security chip on it, which she received from the bank to replace her old card.

“They promoted that it’s for security purposes that you should change your card for a chip, so I did it,” O’Brien said.

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office told WFTV that its economic crimes unit is receiving more than 100 reports of credit-card fraud each month.

When Jonathan Lewis was involved in a hit-and-run accident, detectives found an SUV full of credit cards, gift cards,  IDs, some military and even social security cards, according to photos of evidence WFTV reviewed. Each of the cards had Lewis’ name on the front of both credit cards. The encoded numbers on the magnetic strip of the cards had a different person’s information not belonging to Lewis.

Deputies believe all of the credit cards were stolen from a long list of victims, a majority of them with those chips built into the cards.

“I think everyone thought once the chip went in there, fraud was going to stop,” Sgt. Jacqueline Hearon told Jones.

Lewis admitted to re-encoding cards with a device. Once Lewis was able to purchase virtual codes from people, he was able to encode the number on a credit card and use it to make store purchases, investigators said.

“Until the magnetic strips are off the cards it’s still easy for thieves to steal your credit card information,” Hearon told Jones.

The retailers association reportedly believes it will cost the industry $25 billion to completely convert to chip-card readers. Hearon said only about 70 percent of credit-card companies have the technology, and only 40 percent to 50 percent of retailers, because the chip readers are double the cost of traditional card readers.

Brevard County is working to change the forfeiture laws in Florida. Thieves typically steal cards and purchase gifts cards so they can’t be traced. Right now, any money remaining on those cards when the thief is arrested goes back to the gift card company. Brevard County wants to be able to use it to aid in economic crimes investigations.

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