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      Avoid being a victim of credit card theft

      It happens to almost 10 percent of Americans.

      Credit card fraud can easily occur if you arenâ??t paying careful attention. The most common way credit card fraud occurs is through emails, accounting for 48 percent of fraud reports.

      There are, however, other ways for your numbers to be stolen, one of which is by the use of what is known as a â??skimmerâ??.

      â??Itâ??s the same as you would have at the cash register, except these are ones that you donâ??t want people to have,â?? said Calumet Citizens Bank branch manager, Hal Franke. â??Anyone can go online and buy them. The person would simply take your card, letâ??s say you were at a restaurant, slide it through their skimmer, then go ahead and slide it through the one that theyâ??re supposed to, and that would collect your information right off your card.â??

      Franke said another way people can get your information is through a chip in some cards called a radio frequency identifier, or RFID. He said you can get rid of the chip by using a hole punch.

      â??The chips are very small and will fit inside that hole punch, so all you have to do is just hole punch it,â?? Franke said. â??Yes, youâ??d have a hole in your card, but most people donâ??t use that. Why have it in there when you donâ??t need it?â??

      Another way to keep your cards safe from skimmers is by wrapping them in aluminum foil. The foil acts as a barrier that will block any radio frequencies from taking your information.

      The Michigan State Police say credit card and identity theft is a serious felony.

      â??Penalties can range anywhere from 93 days up to even a 10-year felony, depending on the type of crime that was actually committed and the way that a card was used,â?? said Michigan State Police Trooper, Tim Rajala.

      But credit card fraud and identity theft will happen. If you see it happening, the best thing is to be observant.

      â??Be a good witness,â?? Rajala said. â??Gathering information about what the person looks like, what theyâ??re wearing. If they can get vehicle information, such as a plate, description of the vehicle, last known direction of travel, that information is very useful for the police to investigate.â??