Safe From Scams: Credit Card Fraud

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As you do your holiday shopping, we have some important information on how to protect your credit card information.

Arlinda Weaver purchased $1,000 worth of gift cards at a drug store. The problem? The credit card she was using to make that purchase did not belong to her.

"She wanted to know if I had opened up some charge cards," fraud victim Richard Benoit said.

The account belonged to Benoit, who got a call from his bank asking if he had made $7,000 worth of purchases in the last three days.

When he said no, he realized he was a victim of ID theft. "I was angry to the point where, you know, why?" Benoit asked. "I mean, why do you have to do it?"

The bank contacted authorities who quickly traced the purchases back to Weaver and discovered she had been using Benoit's social security number to get a credit card in his name. "She submitted an application as if she were that victim," United States Postal Service inspector Andrew Brandsasse said. "During the application, she included her name as an authorized user."

Weaver never explained how she got the name and number, but authorities say it could have been through her job in a healthcare office. Keep this in mind, you have the right to refuse using your social security number on healthcare forms.

"When you go to the bank and you open an account, that is one thing," Brandsasse said. "When you apply for a loan, that is one thing. But, a regular retailer merchant, for example, or an online retailer there is no reason they should ever need your social security number.

"I always think that it's going to be somebody else," Benoit said. "Because, you never know, and the one time that you let your guard down is the one time you're going to get burned."

Weaver was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $45,000 in restitution.
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