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Credit card sleeves foil ID thieves

Friday, November 28, 2014

By Peter H. Milliken


The Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office is offering free credit-card protection sleeves to help combat identity theft.

Keeping credit cards in the sleeves prevents any nearby RFID — radio-frequency identification — skimmers from taking information from the cards.

The sheriff’s office is giving two free shields to anyone who asks for them at the Mahoning County jail building, 110 Fifth Ave.

Two credit cards can fit inside each shield, which takes the form of a tiny envelope.

The sleeves are being paid for with ill-gotten gains drug dealers have forfeited.

“That radio frequency ID skimmer that these computer hackers come up with is a way that they’re able to get all of your personal information by scanning the outside of your back pocket or your purse,” warned Sheriff Jerry Greene.

“That shield blocks that radio frequency,” he explained.

“It blocks a would-be hacker from being able to read the information off of that card with a hand-held ID skimmer,” he added.

“Since 2006, all of our credit cards and our debit cards have had a chip placed in them — a radio frequency chip that gives out your personal information on there,” Greene said.

“In today’s day and age, cyber crime is becoming more and more popular, especially with the use of computers and smartphones, so we have to do what we can to combat it and try to keep one step ahead of the criminal,” the sheriff said.

“It’s a program that we’re proud to offer to the citizens of Mahoning County; and anytime that you can increase your financial security, the citizens should seize that moment,” said Maj. William Cappabianca of the sheriff’s office.

“It’s a good use of ill-gotten gains from criminals to turn around and give them back to the public through programs like this,” the major added.

The sheriff offered these identity-theft prevention tips:

Carry only the credit cards you need. “You need to be very careful with what you’re carrying in your wallet at all times,” he said.

Secure credit cards at home.

Check credit statements weekly for signs of unauthorized card use.

Shred records with personal identifying information before disposal.

Memorize, but never write down, personal identification numbers (PINS).

Avoid using simple and easily recognizable passwords and PINS that a criminal with some knowledge about you might be able to find out or guess at, such as the name of your pet or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Report lost cards immediately.

For information, call the sheriff’s office at 330-480-5000.