Credit thieves resort to new sneaky tactic in stealing cards

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This shopping season most people will be depending on their credit cards when making purchases and that is great cover for ID thieves. Worse yet, they now have a new scheme to rip people off.

It is pretty common phone call nowadays from a credit card representative on the line asking if a cardholder just made a purchase in Texas. When the answer is no, they freeze the card and the bad guys have to go looking for another victim. But now the bad guys have a new trick.

In the Bay Area there are plenty of credit cards being used and some of them are being used by thieves.

7 On Your Side caught up with shoppers Dennis Jansen and Thimo van Brenk at Union Square.

Michael Finney: "Has your bank ever called to tell you someone has stolen your card?
Dennis Jansen: "No. Once."

Michael Finney: "Did they tell you your card had been used in another state or another country."
Dennis Jansen: "In England, yes. In the UK."

That fits the pattern: the bad guys often get caught because they go shopping where you don't.

But now privacy advocate and author of the new book "Swiped," Adam Levin, says identity thieves are getting more sophisticated.

"Now what is happening in a lot of the black market card rooms is they're selling credit cards. It is like a bazaar. They're selling them by zip code, they're selling by amount, type of card. Things like that," Levin said.

So they buy a stolen card in your zip code, then use it there too.

Michael Finney: "So they don't get spotted. What do you guys think?"
Dennis Jansen: "It is quite smart I guess."

The way to outsmart them is to keep track of what's being charged on your credit cards.

"The bank may not notice as it being out of pattern, but you'll look at it and say, 'Wait a minute, it's not me. I didn't shop there,'" Levin said.

Many credit card companies will now text every time a purchase is made, if you ask them to. It is a bit of a hassle, but it sure cuts down on theft.
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