The Vinton Police Department has been inundated with reports from local residents this week regarding fraudulent charges and account activity that has been appearing on their bank or credit card statements, or brought to their attention by their local banking institution.

Crimes of this type must be investigated, and potentially prosecuted, in the jurisdiction where the fraudulent charges were incurred, not reported to the Vinton Police Department merely because the banking institution, or the victim are located in Vinton.

“We’re having a hard time explaining to citizens that we simply cannot take a report for them unless the fraudulent charge itself was transacted in Vinton, in spite of what their local bank has instructed them to do. There was simply no crime committed within our jurisdiction to give us any authority to file a report or investigate the matter for them. Where you live or where you bank is not the determining factor for legal jurisdiction in these cases.” Jeff Tilson, Vinton Police Chief said today.

“We are aware of a number of recent cases in which local residents who may have used a credit card or a debit card at a fast food drive-thru in the Cedar Rapids area within the past month are discovering fraudulent charges on their bank statements arriving this week. This seems to be the one common denominator in all of the reports we’ve been dealing with the past few days.” Tilson added.

Residents are urged to carefully examine their bank and credit card statements on an ongoing basis to look for charges they haven’t made. If any such charges do show up, they need to contact the financial institution that issued the card and start the process there. In all cases, the financial institution can tell you exactly what City, State and specific address of the business the charge originated from was. That location is the law enforcement jurisdiction any theft or fraud reports need to be made to.

Cases of this nature are often incorrectly referred to as “identity theft” cases, according to Vinton Police.

Identity Theft occurs when someone obtains, and then uses the Name, Social Security Number and Date of Birth or other uniquely identifiable personal information of someone else and falsely uses that information to apply for or obtain credit or other services in the victim’s name. Identity Theft does occur, but not as frequently as fraud involving credit or debit cards do.

Financial Fraud cases involve the illegal and unauthorized use of a victim’s credit, debit or bank account number to make fraudulent charges or purchases, usually online, with the victim’s account numbers. Any actual products purchased are shipped to someone’s address who will benefit from the fraud, and that is a very handy lead for the law enforcement agencies in those jurisdictions to follow.

“We understand everyone’s frustration with this, and want everyone to understand how to proceed with these cases should they discover they’ve been a victim” Tilson added.

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