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Chili’s Waitress On Long Island Accused Of Stealing Customers’ Credit Card Information

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Coming on the heels of holiday data breaches at several major retailers, a new case of credit card fraud has hit close to home on Long Island.

As CBS 2’s Diane Macedo reported Friday, the data breaches at retailers including Target and Neiman Marcus have raised concerns for months about credit card fraud.

Now, a new breach reported at a Westbury Chili’s is highlighting just how easy it is to commit this crime.

Waitress Brittany Louis, 24, was arrested at the restaurant on Thursday for allegedly stealing credit card information from customers for three months with a simple skimmer device, detectives said.

Just a quick swipe and the device stores the information of any credit card that passes through it.

Investigators said Louis then took the stolen credit card information and went just a few blocks down the road to a Bloomingdales at the Roosevelt Field Mall, where she racked up a tab of more than $5,000.

Most Chili’s customers who spoke to Macedo said they were surprised to hear the news.

“I come here a lot and I use my card so I never know if I could be a victim,” said Chad Sabessar.

“It’s worrisome to the public that somebody’s going to lose their identity and have to pay for things that they weren’t actually charged for,” said Paul Ramski.

Fraud expert Mary Ann Miller said she wasn’t surprised at all.

“It’s quite common. In fact, I recommend to consumers that they always keep their card in sight,” Miller said.

In response to the recent rash of credit card fraud, some lawmakers are proposing the nationwide adoption of a card system more similar to the one used in Europe.

There, cards have a chip which generates a unique code for every transaction instead of a magnetic strip that always stores the same information. Transactions also are processed on portable devices right in front of the customer, Macedo reported.

Card companies have delayed making the costly transition in the United States, but even without a mandate, they now say retailers should prepare for new chip cards come fall of 2015.

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