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Monthly Archives: July 2012



Limerick On Being Neighborly

#VT - By Sara on Bristol Front Porch Forum

When sharing our thoughts on email
Rather than over an ale,
Keep kindness in mind
And I think we will find,
With goodwill, our forum can’t fail.





Local credit/debit card fraud on the rise?

#BTV #VT - Thank you Front Porch Forum friends. After reading your posts. I started checking and found that starting yesterday someone started charging large amounts to one of my cards. I will be filing a police report as soon as I get a statement from the bank. Very scary. I think I will increase my monthly donation to FPF for performing such a vital service to the community.

That’s from Marie to her Richmond FPF today.  Lots of folks there are sharing their recent stories of credit/debit card misuse and fraud in this one small Vermont town.  What’s going on?  Here are some of their stories…

  • My debit card number was also recently stolen. I noticed 3 seperate unauthorized charges while reviewing my statement via online banking. I’m currently in the process of disputing these charges through my bank. With the considerable number of instances of this locally I’m wondering if this is the result of a bank hacking. Is anyone else with this issue a TD Bank customer?
  • Yesterday I filed a credit card fraud report with the Richmond police. The day before my “new” credit card had been ‘used’ in Texas. This card was only one month old and replaced the one that had been ‘used’ in Toronto, Canada just over a month ago. There are people with software who type in numbers until they come up with a valid set then peddle or use them. However, there seems to be an uncanny amount of local fraud. Reporting fraud to the local police may enable them to construct a pattern and resolve this.
  • Wow! My card number was used in a Walmart in PA while I was on vacation in Ireland a week ago! The amazing thing is that the credit card company figured out that the suspicious purchase was the one in PA, not the ones in Ireland. How do they do that? Anyway, I hope someone other than just us on the Forum connects these dots, and finds whoever stole the info.
  • It’s not just debit cards, my partner and I both had our credit card numbers used in other states a few weeks ago, as did the receptionist at my workplace. Even though my receptionist lives in Vergennes, not Richmond, she works in Williston and shops there too. It sounds like someone working at a business in the Williston area has sold these card numbers.
  • I have also had “supposed card swipe purchases” on my credit card in the last few days. The purchases on my card were made in Texas. I also shop at several places in Williston, but I rarely use this card. Everyone keep an eye on your accounts!
  • We had ours swiped in Georgia in Sunday (22) – sounds like a trend!
  • We had ours stolen as well, two weeks ago. Several small purchases in southern California at places like Walmart, Safeway, and gas stations.
  • Hello all – Both a friend of mine and I have experienced debit card fraud in the last couple of days. We have accounts at different banks, and both of us had charges show up from supposed card swipe purchases in southern California. His bank notified him when they saw it and I happened to catch mine early. We can’t be sure where the information was stolen, but we both shop at several Williston stores with those cards. I encourage everyone to keep an eye on their bank accounts, and if your bank has sent you new cards “proactively” as mine did, activate them immediately.

UPDATE 2:  Natural Provisions posted on the Richmond FPF today a lengthy description of all the steps it’s taken to protect its customers.

UPDATE 1:  More shared among neighbors on the Richmond Front Porch Forum (1,300 FPF members out of the 1,600 households in town)…

  • We here at the Richmond police department have received numerous complaints about debit & credit card fraud. The one common link has been from people who have used their cards at the Natural Provisions store located in Williston. Those of you that have used one of your cards at this store prior to July 2, 2012 need to check your statements carefully. The stores system has been upgraded since July 2nd. Area law enforcement is working in conjunction with the Secret Service in an attempt to track the violators. The FBI has been notified as has the Attorney Generals office. I have been informed that a press release should be coming out in the next few days regarding these crimes.  - Alan F. Buck, Richmond Chief of Police
  • Someone asked if those with credit card fraud issues were TD Bank customers. We’ve had three different cards compromised over the last month, a Discover Card twice and an L.L.Bean Visa once. We bank with USAA, so for us it seems to not be a bank issue. Maybe someone has one of those skimmer things that can capture credit card information as it is swiped at check out somewhere. I hadn’t thought of taking that information to the local police, so thanks everyone for that heads up.
  • I’m pretty alarmed by how many of us are reporting fraudulent use of our debit cards. I knew it was common, but this is really surprising.  I notice a lot of us are finding Williston shopping as the commonality in all of our fraud incidents. I’ve been thinking about it, and my wife’s card started showing fraudulent transactions shortly after she shopped at RiteAid in Williston. This is interesting because for months before that, she had not used the card at all.  I, too, do a lot of shopping there. Anyone else able to spot this pattern?
  • I haven’t read all the posts on this, but in case no one has yet mentioned — Scott and I each had cards compromised in late May. Bogus charges were made in Texas and Canada and we were advised that the most likely method used was a device which intercepts card numbers as they are transmitted from a gas pump to the station system. Evidentally, people can capture your information from across the parking lot or street. Paying inside rather than at the pump is recommended.
  • I too had my debit card used six weeks ago by someone shopping at a Toys Are Us somewhere in New York on a Friday evening. Peoples United called me immediately and cancelled the card. The amount of people in our affected by this in our area is a bit startling.
  • So it looks like the only place that I used both of my cards that were compromised was Natural Provisions in Williston. Any one else shop there?
  • I also used both cards at Gardener’s Supply…
  • Me too! My card was used illegally in NYC yesterday. I used my card at the Home Depot in Williston a few days ago and several bad charges were made at a Home Depot in the Bronx. Wondered if that was purposefully done to blend with my “normal” spending habits. Thankful that my bank caught it quickly. Still a huge PITA.
  • Interesting that we are all trying to discern the patterns to our spending to narrow down where this might be happening. I was saved because the thieves tried to use my card online but they did not have the correct expiration date. But there was over $1500 in one day, including a $900 charge at Rite Aid. Who spends that kind of money at a drug store?? It was also used in Massachusetts and in Germany. The spending was so different from my normal spending that it was not hard to detect.  I understand that there are card readers that can pick up numbers just when people walk by you. They are now selling insulated wallets that prevent this kind of fraud. How crazy is this world?  I’m glad that I have been converting to cash – at least at small, local businesses. The banks are charging so much to the business that we are not doing ourselves any favors by always whipping out the plastic. We may think we are getting “free points” or “cash back” but we are really just taxing ourselves. The more the banks charge the vendors, the more the items cost and we all pay.  I was curious – what has been your experience when you go to the police?
  • My card number was stolen a few weeks ago and the thief used it to-get this- register his/her car at the Vermont DMV. My bank, VSECU, told me 350 cards were compromised. Not sure if they were all VSECU cards or VISA Debit cards from area banks. I was also told that gas stations are a popular place to steal card info because the security can be weaker. I have taken action through my bank but did not contact the police directly because I assumed the bank would take that step. Does anyone know if I should do that or will the bank do it?
  • We have experienced credit card fraud twice within a few month period. We have a VISA card with Capitol One. The first charge was made in Europe and the second charge was made in North Carolina. I’m not sure whether making purchases online enable hackers to get our information. Any thoughts?
  • My husband’s NEFCU account number (debit card) was recently used by someone in Calif. They made Five (5) charge transactions totaling $285 in just 2 days last week.The person even had time to hit Jack-In-The-Box for a quick bite at $4.67. He now has to report the fraudulent charges via NEFCU to have them removed from his checking account. My card was also put on hold a few months ago when someone tried to charge $100 at Walmart in Florida. The fraud hotline has been quite busy according to folks at NEFCU. They told us they had over 100 fraud cases reported in past few weeks and had to reissue new cards to members.
  • I too have had three different cards compromised in the last 6 to 8 weeks. I don’t think it is from a distinct store location,or at least not Rite-aid because I don’t shop there.. More likely one of the verification systems used to authorize purchases has been hacked or an a large company data base has been hacked.  I am wondering if it is unique to Richmond residents? or is there a rise of card fraud in every town?  Could a local business be hacked without its owner being aware of it?
  • My debit card number was compromised in late May/early June three times in London (with small amounts) and one time in Italy (a big number). I was contacted by KeyBank about the charges, which were removed from my account. Obviously, a new card was issued. And yes, I did shop with it at Natural Provisions (where the clerk takes your card to scan it), along with other places. The bank suggested I file a report with the town police, which I did. And from this morning’s FPF posting, you now know what the Richmond Police department is doing with our reports.  The bank also suggested when buying anything, to use the credit option, and not the debit, particularly when getting gas. In many other places in the country, there are shields around the credit card portion of gas station pumps — and really, anywhere credit cards are used, including grocery stores (I haven’t seen Shaw’s or Hannaford’s mentioned here). These shields prevent remote access to card information.  Without those shields, any digits you enter can be scanned by some remote scanner that’s targeted on that particular terminal. It could be why she suggested I use the credit option in the future.  And the RFID-blocking wallets help to prevent electronic pickpocketing, which, by some accounts, is predicted to be the leading avenue in the next few years for thieves to access our debit and credit information — and by extension, possibly, our identities.  I’m currently in Denver, but thought I’d share my debit card fraud experience. My own commentary to this is that while we were focused on protecting ourselves with monitors on nearly every major street corner through Homeland Security after 9/11, there was that element that figured out how to use that same technology to further attack us and our neighbors through our wallets.  Also resulting from 9/11, the markets opened up to personal protection in a huge way, with some pretty radical tools and weapons available on line. Tragically, horrifically, once again in Denver, we’re seeing the results of that on-line availability play out.  So yeah, it’s a shame that we have to be as vigilant as we do these days. And every time we figure out a way to protect our citizenry, other minds are figuring out a way to undermine — or capitalize on — it.  If you want to know why costs continue to climb in nearly every sector, look to what mandates a variety of industries have had placed on them to keep us safe, secure. As a result, the cost to develop technologies and systems is, of course, passed on to us, the consumers.  The best way we can protect ourselves is to stay on top of technological changes ourselves and keep informed, not bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away. Unfortunately, cash will only go so far in today’s commerce. So we must be vigilant ourselves.
  • I have had three debit cards compromised due to fraudulent charges in the past three months. Two were with People’s United, charges in PA, and the most recent one was with TD Bank, charges which occurred in Texas.
  • I will report mine to the police. Do we think these are all related? Meaning all Natural Provisions market? I definitely used mine there prior to July 2. I hope they catch them soon!
  • Hello Friends, We recognize credit card fraud as a no-joke issue and have recently received a report from one of our field agents we find interesting and potentially informative. As you know we strive at all times to be fair, well balanced and historically accurate. The following is reported verbatim and is not meant to be in the least bit entertaining.  Report from the field, agent (name redacted to protect ongoing investigations):” Tracy, i have recently had my credit card misused by some character in Richmond, VT. According to the bank, the charges were made to Victoria Secret and Tractor Supply Company. Apparently the perpetrator ordered two sets of lace under garments (top and bottom) that were size 16 and SPF 50 suitable for outdoor wear. Within minutes the Tractor Supply Company received an attempted charge for two cases of engine oil (50 weight) and two pair of gloves, size large also SPF 50. The Feds have been brought into the case and a surveillance post has been set up. In an undisclosed location in Richmond, VT several federal agents are on 24 hour rotation scanning the fields for a scantily clad farmer wearing sexy underwear. I am disturbed that my credit card has been misused but am hoping to publish the surveillance tapes on my pay per view youtube site. Please keep your eyes peeled and contact Chief Buck if you see this guy/gal in the field.” Again, the Quasi Intelligent Design Agency agrees that credit card fraud is a serious issue that should be stomped out. We will keep you informed with helpful reports from the field as they come in and together we will catch these culprits. Meanwhile, stay alert and do not scan the fields while you are driving.