By Natalie M. Zeigler
Increasingly in Hartsville and around the nation, we find ourselves talking about credit card and debit card fraud. We use them more and more, and both the methods of securing them and the methods of stealing the information which is found on them grow more sophisticated all the time. Last week, a growing concern over such fraud prompted downtown development organization Main Street Hartsville to host an information session for downtown merchants to learn about this, both from representatives of Carolina Bank as well as from Lt. Brian Rudick of the Hartsville Police Department.
Here’s what we know from Lt. Rudick – our police department is fully aware of rumors of fraud trends at Hartsville businesses and has investigated them. They found some cases where viruses made their way onto a point-of-sale computer system from outside the business, allowing the theft of the card, but nothing pointing to local employees. Every one of these cases involved the same software system, and every instance has since been resolved.
Lt. Rudick also pointed out the importance of reporting crime to the police when it happens, as this gives our investigators the data to truly know where the problems lie in our town and properly address them. He also encourages everyone who is interested in knowing what crime trends are taking place around them to seek good information rather than relying on rumor. The website www.crimereports.com provides updated information on what reported crimes are happening where, and our Police Department always remains happy to talk to anyone about concerns. Our investigators’ “heat map,” showing crime trends across Hartsville, now illustrates falling levels of crime in much of our city, especially downtown.
The department has numerous recommendations for those concerned about credit card fraud. Consumers should always watch their statements for unauthorized activity, and should always keep useful contact information on file with their banks so they may be notified quickly. Merchants, at the same time, need to invest in the new EMV chip card terminals, because liability for fraudulent charges is now shifting onto those retailers which do not use them, rather than lying with banks. They should also take steps to ensure their own cyber security – point-of-sale terminals, for example, should be dedicated for that purpose, public and private wifi channels should be separated and systems should be protected with strong, unique passwords.
Our Police Department always has an eye on connecting with the community to find ways to make it safer – it’s why Lt. Tenyonde Richardson, formerly of the Patrol Division, has taken on the new role of Community Outreach Lieutenant as part of a fresh effort at connecting with our residents that you’ll hear more about soon. They want to help not just Hartsville’s residents but also the local businesses which take on the risk and responsibilities of operating here and driving our economy. Police Chief Jerry Thompson always stresses that anyone with a concern should call the department. Their office number, for those who may need it, is 843.383.3011 and their non-emergency dispatch number is 843.398.4920.
Natalie Zeigler is the City Manager of Hartsville. For more information, call City Hall at 843-383-3015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.