Austin Police Chief urging people to use cash after dozens become victim to credit and debit card fraud

AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) – The chief of police in Austin, Indiana, is urging people to only use cash instead of debit or credit cards in the area for the time being.

While Austin is a small city off I-65, its residents have been hit in a big way.

“We were really scared. We've never had this happen to us before,” said Crystal Ross, who had her card information stolen.

In a matter of 72 hours, at least 100 people in Austin have had their credit or debit card information stolen. Dozens have been showing up to the police station to file reports.

“I got hit for like a thousand something. My husband got hit for like 400-something,” Ross said.

It first started at the Circle K on Main Street. Then the next day, the same thing happened at the Huck’s down the road.

Now the city's police chief has this message for people who live there and those who are just passing through.

“I urge everybody to use cash. Don't use credit cards or debit cards right now until we can get this all figured out,” Chief Robert Gudgel said.

Gudgel says no skimmers were found at the pumps, but says it's possible this could be the result of a card processing company that's been breached.

It's been nothing but a huge inconvenience for everyone involved.

“Horribly, I mean they didn't clear out my bank account, but he (her husband) didn't have his gas money this morning to put in the car so hopefully it will be fixed soon,” Ross said.

It’s been even harder on Austin Police, who have a department of fewer than a dozen officers.

“It definitely puts more of a load on us answering calls and trying to be here at the same time for the public. We have had some people get frustrated,” Gudgel said.

The chief, also a victim of the credit card fraud, has been working 14-hour days trying to sort everything out.

“We've got about a two inch stack in there right now of transaction receipts … from just today,” Gudgel said.

And after this incident, it has some people thinking about changing their habits.

“Once this is all over, he (her husband) will never want to use his debit card at the store anymore,” Ross said.

Gudgel says as a precaution, Huck's says it will quit taking card payments for the time being.

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