A rash of credit card information theft affecting Sedgwick residents last week spurred an investigation into a potential credit card skimmer — though searches of several businesses in town turned up no evidence of such a device, according to Sedgwick Police Chief Larry Alexander.
"No skimmer's ever been located. We searched and we've spoken to the financial institution in town. They check theirs daily so we know that, realistically, it's not there," Alexander said.
Still, numerous reports (at least 10 in the past week) have come to Alexander about stolen credit card numbers. While none have been tied to fraudulent charges within Sedgwick city limits, Alexander noted he continues to refer citizens to file reports with the appropriate agencies — in those cities in which fraudulent charges have occurred. He also said an investigation into the issue is ongoing.
For the time being, Alexander urges caution and cognizance while using credit cards around town. Looking for cameras around any card readers is a good indicator of fraudulent activity, as Alexander pointed out that cameras on most legitimate devices will be inside the machines themselves and not visible. Additionally, he urged consumers to be vigilant about how their cards are processed at said readers — asking for a card to be read in a different manner than usual is another giveaway of fraudulent activity.
There is also a simple test that can be used to suss out any potential skimmers, as Alexander said a physical inspection can help identify legitimate card readers. Normal ATMs and readers are pretty sturdy, and thorough inspections will do them no harm, though they can root out any fraudulent devices.
"A skimmer is placed up there very quick and fast, so it's not held on by very much adhesive whatsoever," Alexander said.
In 2017, there have been no reported cases of skimmers by either the Harvey County Sheriff's Office or Newton Police Department — the two largest agencies in the county — but both urged caution like Alexander and alluded to the constant threat it presents.
"We have never been advised of, or found, a skimmer," said Lt. Scott Powell of the Newton Police Department. "We are familiar with it, but we have never had one in town. We could have one (at a convenience store) that we do not know about right now. It can happen anywhere."