Has your debit card been copied?

9:59 PM, Jul 25, 2008   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida – Hillsborough County Detective Chris Freeman is used to tracking down the bad guy.

What he isn't used to is having the bad guy track him down.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody,” the Hillsborough County Detective told us Friday afternoon.

Freeman is talking about his debit/credit card being skimmed, where the black strip on the back is run through a small machine and vital information is stolen.

It's the kind of crime Freeman fights on a daily basis. He never thought it would happen to him.

“I was quite surprised.”

SunTrust bank issue a card to him that he used twice in one month. He knew exactly where he spent the money. So, you can imagine how shocked he was to learn that his card had been copied, he says, by a man identified as Manuel Blanco.

Blanco was caught on surveillance tape at Lowe's on Causeway Boulevard in Brandon allegedly using the detective's card to purchase $500 worth of gift cards.

The information on the card belonged to Freeman, but the name on the card was Blanco's. The card had been imprinted and sold.

“My wife called pretty upset asking me why I had spent so much money at Lowe's. Honey I haven't been to Lowe's,” Freeman told us.

He explains how “skimming” works.

“Basically you can put this in your front pocket as a waitress or waiter and when you obtain credit card, you take the information and store it on a skimmer, sell your information to their contact.”

Freeman says don't ever let your debit card out of your sight, especially at a restaurant. That's where he believes his was skimmed.

“What you want to try and avoid doing when you're using a debit card is.allowing a person to walk away with your debit card out of your sight,” Freeman said.

Since Freeman is not allowed to investigate his own case, he has a few choice words for Blanco.

“You got the wrong guy! I normally catch bad guys relatively easy, so you messed with the wrong guy!”

To learn how to protect against identity theft, click here.

Melanie Brooks, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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