How to keep your bank info safe at summer fairs, festivals

Regional News

Police are investigating an incident where a vendor at a local fair reportedly stole customer’s credit card information.

Summer is the time when people are out having fun at fairs, festivals and carnivals, but cybersecurity experts at Harrisburg University say those may be places you want to use cash or prepaid debit cards.

“Your credit card should never be out of your sight,” said cybersecurity expert Ron Jones. “Even when you hand it to them, you should be able to see them take that credit card in their hands, swipe it and give it back to you.”

Jones says fairs, carnivals and festivals typically vet whether a vendor actually sells what they say they do, but many don’t have the capacity to regulate how they make their transactions. 

That leaves us to decide: who can you trust?

“They take your credit card, create an imprint,” said Jones. “From that, they can keep a copy of all of your credit card information that’s on the card and they can turn around and use that on the internet.”

Jones says credit card imprint machines can be impossible to spot. 

“The other thing a lot of times they’ll do is take a picture on their phone,” said Jones.

Middletown police are trying to figure out how many people’s information was stolen by a vendor at the Middletown Area Historical Society Craft Fair earlier this month. 

Police say the vendor was actually selling rugs, florals and baskets, but used customers’ credit cards to make several fraudulent charges. Middletown police were not available for an on-camera interview Friday. 

We also reached out to the Middletown Area Historical Society which said it can’t comment during the investigation.

Police say if you bought anything at the fair, check your credit card statements. It’s something experts say everyone should be doing on a regular basis. They also recommend paying with cash at these kinds of summer events.

Another option is using prepaid debit cards, so there’s a limit to what scammers can access.

Police haven’t released who the vendor is or how much money he or she stole.  Charges have not yet been filed. 

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