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What you can do to protect yourself from the uptick in debit card fraud

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Kingsport police are facing a new wave of credit and debit card fraud. Thieves are now able to steal credit and debit card information without touching a card or leaving any visible evidence. It is also becoming easier to make copies of other people's debit cards. Credit card encoders can be obtained with relative ease on the internet.

"Basically, anything that you would need to do this could be purchased online with a simple Google search, unfortunately," Kingsport Police Public Information Officer Tom Patton said.

Some thieves place card skimming devices on the outside of ATM's or gas pumps to steal information as customers swipe their cards.

"And now the fraudsters are getting a little more tricky," Bank of Tennessee Senior Vice President Detra Clevin said. "They'll actually be able to put a device inside the machine, so the naked eye really can't see it."

Thieves can also use computer hacking to steal card information. Bank officials said to always check an ATM or gas pump before using it. Police said that customers can give the card reader a little tug to ensure that no device is attached to it.

"You can also notice if your card doesn't slide very smoothly," Clevin said. "Now sometimes that might be the machine, and it might be a legitimate machine, but sometimes that means that it's actually trying to capture that magnetic strip."

For skimming devices that aren't easily visible, officials recommended monitoring bank accounts as the best line of defense.

"It's critical that you just check those bank statements," Patton said. "Check your online banking as regularly as possible. I recommend a couple of times a week."

Police and bank officials said to report any suspicious charges.

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