Identity Thieves Use Gift Cards To Avoid Being Traced

DENVER (CBS4) – Credit card theft is still a top form of identity theft, but now law enforcement says the thieves are using those numbers to buy gift cards so they can further hide from police.

“They get wise and learn how to adapt and move a little quicker,” said Ralph Gagliardi, Agent-In-Charge of the Identity Theft Unit at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Credit card theft can happen in an instant. Thieves can us a skimmer, which is a device that can fit in the palm of a hand and copies all the information off the card’s magnetic strip. The card information could also get skimmed at an ATM.

The reader is attached to the ATM’s card slot, and then a camera is fitted over the key pad to capture the pin number. In just minutes credit card information can be sent electronically across the country.

“And then with that credit card number, buying gift cards,” Gagliardi said.

Gift cards are the top transaction with stolen credit card numbers because when the card gets shut down, the gift cards are still good.

CBS4's Jodi Brooks talks with Ralph Gagliardi, Agent-In-Charge of the Identity Theft Unit at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jodi Brooks talks with Ralph Gagliardi, Agent-In-Charge of the Identity Theft Unit at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (credit: CBS)

“They can buy multiple cards. They can buy a dozen $50 or $100 prepaid cards,” Gagliardi explained.

Gift cards are difficult to trace. Gagliardi said that it’s complicated to track each gift card purchased with each credit card. That makes it that much more important that credit card holders keep careful track of their card statements and any unusual purchases.

– Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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