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Breaking News in the Industry: August 10, 2018

American Express beefs up fraud protections

If your wallet is stolen, you should cancel your credit cards immediately. But what if you just misplace it? American Express has introduced a set of account services that includes a feature allowing cardholders to freeze their card, preventing it from being used for new purchases. If someone finds your card and tries to use it, they can’t. But if you find your card, you can easily unfreeze it. The freezing and unfreezing function is done from the cardholder’s online account. While the card is frozen, recurring subscriptions and bills will post to the account as usual. It can also still be used for digital wallet transactions and some online purchases at merchants where the card is on file. A card freeze is only temporary and will lift after seven days.

American Express says it is also improving customers’ online statements, giving cardholders more details about account activity. The online statement will detail when and where a charge was made, and what was purchased. Credit card companies have adopted more consumer-friendly tools in an effort to combat credit card fraud. According to Experian, consumers can be victims of credit card fraud, even if their card is safely in their wallet. Cybercriminals who hack into retailers’ payment systems can steal your credit card information and use it to make purchases without physically possessing the card. Experian advises consumers to regularly monitor all of their credit card accounts and immediately notify the card issuer when they spot suspicious activity.

“Many have zero-liability policies, meaning you won’t be responsible for any fraudulent charges made on your accounts,” Experian says in a  consumer advisory. “What’s more, federal law limits your liability for fraudulent credit card charges. If someone uses your lost or stolen credit card before you report it missing to the card issuer, you can only be held responsible for $50 of any fraudulent charge.” But if you report the loss before the card is used, you’re not responsible for any charges. Consumers are also free of liability if thieves just use the card information to make fraudulent purchases, and not the card itself.   [Source: Consumer Affairs]

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Woman arrested for allegedly urging teen to shoplift

Las Cruces, New Mexico, police have arrested a woman suspected of encouraging a 13-year-old girl to shoplift from a local CVS store. Michelle Jasso, 40, of the 4100 block of Gila Trail is charged with one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charge is a fourth-degree felony. On Tuesday, July 31, Las Cruces police were dispatched to the CVS store at 3011 N. Main Street where Jasso and the teenage girl were being held by employees, according to a Las Cruces Police Department news release.

Investigators learned that store employees observed as Jasso and the teenager left the store without paying for a package of pore-cleansing strips. Investigators learned that, before leaving the store, Jasso told the girl to place the product in her purse as she had no intention of paying for it. As the two left the store, they were stopped by an employee and escorted back inside, according to LCPD. Store employees determined the two took the cleansing strips and other facial products with a total value of $32.78. The teenager was given a Juvenile Class III citation for shoplifting. Jasso was arrested on the felony and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center. She has since been released.   [Source: Las Cruses Sun Times]

Smart lock for home deliveries targets porch piracy

A smart lock startup is aiming to address the growing problem of porch piracy by securing e-commerce deliveries through barcode scanning by parcel carriers. BoxLock, which launched in early July, went live on Prime Day and is available exclusively for Prime members, for the time being. Other natural channels include home improvement chains and electronics sellers.

It’s the brainchild of founder Brad Ruffkess, who came up with the concept after experiencing firsthand the limitations of home security cameras as theft deterrents. “As I was moving from my condo to my house I came to the realization that I was going to have to protect the 100 deliveries a year I was getting,” said Ruffkess, who lives in Atlanta. “So, I installed cameras to keep an eye on things. The next day I watched a guy walk up and steal two things off my porch. Cameras do a good job seeing but not necessarily protecting deliveries.”

Ruffkess, who worked on marketing and brand initiatives for Coca-Cola, worked with San Francisco design consultancy Propelland on creating the prototype for BoxLock and began testing it earlier this year in a few select Atlanta ZIP codes. The carrier-agnostic system lets a delivery driver scan the barcode, open the lock and deposit the package in the customer’s storage unit, with encryption technology protecting customer data. The BoxLock only opens after confirming the package is out for delivery and addressed to the homeowner, preventing the use of fake or even old labels addressed to the homeowner.    [Source: MultiChannelMerchant]

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Suspect attacks mall officer, steals badge and radio

A Florida man is accused of beating a mall security officer at Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville to the point where he needed to be taken to a nearby hospital, police said. James Jean Claude Pierre-Gilles of Lawrenceville allegedly approached the officer Sunday, demanded the officer’s radio and badge before beating the officer, Gainesville police spokesman Kevin Holbrook told Channel 2 Action News.

The officer was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for evaluation and has since been released, Holbrook confirmed. He said Pierre-Gilles stole the officer’s badge and radio before running away, but witnesses were able to give a good description of the suspect, leading to his arrest. The badge and radio, which Holbrook said Pierre-Gilles had when he was arrested, have been returned to the officer. Police haven’t identified a motive for the attack. Pierre-Gilles faces battery, robbery and theft/shoplifting charges, according to Hall County Jail records. He remains in jail on a $6,650 bond.   [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Woman takes her time shoplifting; 54 items in two hours

It appears a Michigan woman inside the Woodhaven Walmart, 23800 Allen Road, took her time selecting items to conceal before attempting to walk out of the store without paying for them. Police said a 24-year-old woman from Brownstown Township, spent more than two hours roaming through the store July 11 before police were called at about 2 p.m.

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Upon their arrival, a manager told police the woman was in the sporting goods section of the store. The manager told police she was in the process of using black and gray backpacks to conceal fishing lures. When confronted by police, the woman admitted to concealing the merchandise, but would not explain why she was taking the items. In all she stuffed 54 items totaling nearly $430 in the backpacks, the report said. She also told police she wasn’t sure if she had any narcotics or paraphernalia on her at the time, but told police she recently had been arrested on that charge. Police arrested her for retail fraud.   [Source: News-Herald]

Inside the University of Florida’s anti-shoplifting ‘store’

We see crazy robbery attempts caught on security camera all the time.  But at a “store” in Gainesville, the crimes are on purpose, and the cameras are only a small part of the picture. That’s where University of Florida researchers are getting inside the mind of a shoplifter, with the help of new technology like “synthetic DNA.”  The goo is being tested at the school’s “store lab” as a way for police to catch thieves red-handed — or should we say, “blue handed”? When a would-be thief triggers the alarm, a special substance sprays down on them and shows up blue on their skin under a black light. Invisible to the naked eye, the marks from the spray remain on skin for up to six weeks. “It’s not made anywhere else in the world, so we can say with absolute certainty if you find this on someone’s skin they were in this location when this thing went off,” explained Mike Giblin, the lab’s senior research scientist. It’s just one of the cutting-edge tactics they try out to help fight theft.

Dr. Read Hayes, the director of the Loss Prevention Council, says they’ve interviewed hundreds of shoplifters over the years. He says robberies are getting more violent due to all of the new expensive products out there. “Smart phones, pharmaceuticals,” he said, ticking down the list. “Consumer goods like premium razor blades. Tide, logo apparel, premium handbags.” That’s why the lab focuses on stopping a crime before it happens, working with stores in the area for real-world testing on their methods or products. “How do we influence that decision — no, or not now, or not here,” he continued.

We got an inside look at their research in action. They attack loss-prevention by experimenting with social media, and also are studying where to place cameras and lighting — both outside and inside. “This one has shown promise,” Giblin said, demonstrating some cameras placed at the entrance.  “Essentially offenders think it has facial recognition tech built into it, when in reality all it does is detect geometry of two eyes and a mouth.” And they define “the asset.” “It could be a person, a safe, a cash register, merchandise. Whatever a target might be,” said Hayes. Then, they design ways to frustrate and stop a thief.

“There are things like peg hooks to prevent theft — being as simple as just having a bump so you can’t grab them all at once so you can’t sweep them into a basket — all the way to push-button; press a button to advance forward,” Giblin said. They’re even placing alarms inside product boxes that are triggered to sound a loud alarm if the density changes when someone pulls the item out. Some sensors track stacks of cash. Others respond to light, so if someone tries to hide them under clothing, they would start to beep. Another effective method? Reducing the reward if they do make it out of the store, like special codes activated by clerks at checkout that the product can’t work without. The key is to send a message of control, making people feel like there are eyes on them all the time. And one more added layer of protection? Barry Manilow.  It’s no joke. Researchers found out playing classical music — or some Barry Manilow — deters loitering, which can lead to shoplifting.   [Source: Fox13 News]

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