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Theft, credit card fraud creates holiday havoc

By Trina Dennis Brittain
Rocket Miner
Via- Wyoming News Exchange

ROCK SPRINGS – Credit card fraud caught a local business and the authorized user of a credit card off guard in October.

NAPA Auto Parts, 1300 Dewar Dr., suffered a loss when an individual purchased battery operated impact wrenches, an air compressor and a few other items with a stolen credit card.

Shannon Marsing helps manage the local auto parts store.

“We don’t get paid from the credit card company for those tools,” said Marsing. “It stinks because you really want to trust people, but you can’t.”

Marsing expressed how credit card fraud can make a negative impact on the store.

“NAPA is an individually owned and operated store,” she shared. “We are a small business, so when something like that happens, it plays a big role on the bottom line.

We just can’t brush it off like corporate stores can.”

Marsing advises other businesses to “take some extra steps to verify everything you can.”

The Rock Springs police department has seen a slight increase in theft this year versus last, according to Bill Erspamer, chief of police.

“In 2021, the RSPD responded to 315 larceny calls between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30,” said Erspamer. “In 2022, that number increased to 359. These numbers do not include, fraud, employee theft or burglary. They are mostly shoplifting incidents.”

Erspamer pointed out that the holidays tend to put a lot of pressure on people.

“There are gift expectations or maybe promises made that people can’t fulfill, so they look for other ways to accomplish that,” he noted. “It’s important to remember that every theft has a victim.”

He added, “I remember a recent case where a kid’s power wheels car was stolen and then given to a child as a gift. When our officers had to return that toy to the rightful owner, they were crushed to take it away from the child — so much so that they pooled their own money together and bought the child a replacement. That can’t always be the case.

“The consequences of shoplifting over the holidays are the same as any other time of the year.”

Erspamer mentioned that business owners should be aware that shoplifting does increase this time of the year. He advises them to secure expensive items behind a counter or locked display case.

“Be aware of every customer who enters your store and greet them,” he suggested. “A simple greeting lets people know that you are alert and attentive. It can deter shoplifting. Be on higher alert for fraud; stolen checks, credit cards or even phones can be used. If you suspect someone is using a stolen card, call us. Cameras always help, but a good description or license plate will go a long way.”

Rock Springs resident Brandy Moeller represents RSNB, a local financial institution, as a new accounts supervisor.

Regarding theft, she believes “it’s never going away.”

“It’s a scary world out there,” said Moeller. “There are so many moving parts in being proactive – on the business side and the consumer side. We enjoy the convenience and speed of shopping, but everyone needs to be very diligent in protecting their cards.”

Consumers need to contact their banks as soon as they realize their credit card account has been compromised, Moeller pointed out.

“It’s due diligence on the consumer’s part,” she said. “If you wait too long, you might not be able to dispute it as easily.”

Moeller suggested that consumers use their banking apps on their mobile devices.

“Those apps will alert you when suspicious purchases are being made on your card and you can have that option to turn off your card to keep them from making more purchases,” she explained. “Those apps are handy, easy and quick to use. “Keep your credit card number as close to you as you would your own social security number.”

Moeller mentioned deceiving email.

“There are people pretending to be retailers, offering big discounts or ‘free’ gift cards in your email,” Moeller warned. “Do your research on Google. Type in the name of the business. Usually, within the first three searches, you’ll know it’s a scam.”

She added, “If the website asks for an ‘activation fee’ on gift cards, it’s definitely fake. Check the URL and company before entering your credit card number. Don’t rely on the phone number that’s attached to the email. If you have questions about a company, call your bank or financial institution.”

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