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CONTACT 13: FBI warning about using credit cards this holiday season

Posted at 5:45 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:35:03-05
The Las Vegas FBI says your wallet is at risk. The upcoming holiday season means you may be using your credit card more than usual. And it only takes a moment for the bad guys to steal your information. Contact 13 looks at this very real danger, right here in the valley.
"I always use my card. I very rarely carry cash," says one shopper. 
"I'm always careful. I'm kind of paranoid actually," says another shopper.
Shoppers we spoke with agree. You can't be too careful these days. On Thursday, the Las Vegas FBI is issuing a warning. Thieves are using more and more skimming devices to steal your credit card information.
"It is a major problem here. And we have a joint task force involving all law enforcement agencies here in southern Nevada," says Special Agent Fred Bradford with the FBI.
Skimming is when thieves plant a device on a card reader. When you insert or swipe your card, the device captures your account information.
"These things are undetectable," says Bradford.
It all happens in just seconds, and it can happen anywhere -- your favorite store, a restaurant, ATM or at the gas pump.
"It just seems that as the years go by the technology for picking up masses of information has really enhanced has really increased," says Bradford.
Last month alone, Las Vegas police's Financial Crimes Unit discovered 23 skimming devices. Each one capable of collecting 500 credit card numbers, helping bad guys steal about $2 million from just one device. And don't think you're safe just because you have a new chip card.
"Chip protection technology was compromised years ago," says Bradford.
The FBI's warning -- be vigilant when it comes to monitoring your financial accounts.
"This holiday season, it's almost a daily exercise and going online, talking to your bank and finding out what's happening in those accounts," says Bradford.
So how can you protect yourself? Never let your card out of your sight. If you're going to a fast food restaurant, go inside to pay. And monitor your credit card statements. If there are any bogus charges, report them as soon as possible.