MUSCATINE, Iowa — Montpelier residents Shelly and Troy Davis know they aren’t the only recent victims of financial fraud in Muscatine County.
Like the Davises, Shelly’s brother, Shannon Dugan of Wilton, learned someone had stolen and used his debit card number in late March to make a purchase in another state.
The cards were not stolen, said Shelly Davis, 33, but the numbers were obtained somehow and used.
Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren said the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office and Muscatine Police Department are investigating incidents of debit and credit cards being stolen and used in the area.
Troy Davis, 39, realized something was wrong when his debit card was rejected March 25 at the Muscatine Pizza Hut.
The IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, issuers of the card, closed it down shortly after discovering someone in Chicago used it to charge $750 in merchandise at an OfficeMax, said Shelly Davis.
“They recognized that as fraud right away,” she said. “Our bank took care of it and gave Troy a new card and account number.”
Davis said it appears the numbers from her husband’s and her brother’s cards were taken March 23.
“My brother found out right away,” said Shelly Davis. “His bank called him and said, ‘Are you trying to use
your card in Brooklyn, N.Y.?’ and he said, ‘No.’ Someone was trying to buy gas with it.”
Shelly Davis said IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union officials told her husband thieves may be putting devices into ATM machines that read information.
People who find their credit and debit card numbers compromised should contact their financial institution and the police, Ostergren said.
Muscatine Police Capt. Steve Snider said his department has been receiving more calls than usual concerning this type of theft.
“It seems a lot of area residents have been targeted,” he said. “We have open investigations going on.”
Fraudulently obtaining credit and debit card numbers is a crime that’s difficult to track, said Snider.
There are cell phone applications that allow users to swipe a card and store the information and devices that capture information on credit cards can be inserted into ATMs.
It is also possible that the electronic payment processing systems used by many merchants may be hacked, said Snider.
Snider said debit cards are easier to use fraudulently than regular credit cards.
“There’s a disproportionate number of debit card cases coming through,” said Snider.
Snider advises people to refrain from using a debit card when it will be taken out of sight, such as when restaurant personnel take the card to a register. He also recommends using credit cards for online purchases rather than debit cards.