Law enforcement officials now spend more time tracking down identity thieves than drug dealers, according to recent figures provided by the U.S. Justice Department. Experts warn consumers to exhibit caution when using credit cards and debit cards, even during mundane transactions. Using a dedicated card when dining out can limit the potential damage caused by "card skimming teams" operating in restaurants and fast food establishments.

To combat credit card fraud, police and bank investigators increasingly team up with merchants to enhance internal security systems. For instance, many gas stations and retail stores now use technology that can quickly connect digital surveillance to a recorded credit card transaction.

When a card number is reported lost or stolen, or is declined by a bank's fraud department, retailers can provide authorities with video or still images of the individuals attempting to use the card. Even without upgraded camera technology, investigators can often trace multiple identity theft cases to a single, common source.

About the Author


Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.