Campus cameras curb credit card fraud


Universities are a prime target for credit card theft, but technology stems to put the bulls-eye on thieves with more cameras and more police effort.

The University of Mississippi managed to cut credit card theft by more than half since 2009, bringing incidents down from 50 a year, to 18 in 2016, but a recent surge since January of 2017 has students like Annabelle Knef concerned about their information. “It’s something that I think everyone should take seriously,” Knef said.

According to Credit card fraud remains the most popular form of larceny with  12.7 consumers losing their information in 2014.   University students are the most vulnerable, being three times more likely to be targeted by fraudsters.

It’s an issue campuses across the U.S. work to address with varying degrees of success.  The University of Los Angeles shows reports of fraud rising by 48 percent from 73 in 2014 to 108 the following year.

Surveillance is rising as the go-to instrument in catching credit card fraud before too much damage to the victims’ account is done.  An increase in camera presence throughout campus makes the job of catching criminals easier for UPD  Lieutenant Jeremy Cook. “It’s not too hard now,” Cook said.  “If they use cash registers, we can catch their face on camera, and from there, it’s just a matter of putting a name to a face.”

From there, campus police can follow suspects through the camera array, getting all the information they need from the routes they trace. classrooms to get the name and the card back. “If they walk to class, we can check the roster, and catch them more easily that way,” Cook said.

UM contractual services lend a hand as well, in finding out which set of wrong hands the card went into, or reimbursing students for their losses.  Students are encouraged to play their part, and report fraud as soon as they’re made aware.

Most of the people caught, are taken in before they spend more than 30 dollars.  Instead of pressing charges, they pay the victims back what they’re owed, and get sent off with a  warning from campus police. “If it’s 10-30 dollars, then the person usually just wants their money back, but if it’s a lot money, the person would want to press charges,” Cook said.

As credit card theft persists on universities around the U.S. campus police up the camera presence in an attempt to eliminate credit card fraud, at least from campus grounds. “It’s comforting to hear that UPD is taking it seriously and that steps are being taken to solve the problem,” Knef said.



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