Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's Computer Forensics Cyber Crimes Unit Detective Chris McNeil said hackers can get credit card information just about anywhere, including ATMs, store card readers, and internet sales, both wirelessly and remotely.
"Those are computers. They can get compromised," said McNeil on Thursday. "When they find a flaw in the system or something they can exploit, they take advantage of it."
Thieves can also re-create a debit and credit card. All they need is a magnetic strip, often found on store reward cards and hotel keys.
"They can encode that with proper software. Probably within just less than 15 seconds, you can make a complete clone of that credit card," McNeil added.
He said gone are the days of insiders or computer experts stealing information. Technology has made easy for just about anyone to do it.
"You've got regular low level criminals that have figured out a way to make easy money."
Consumer protection is key. Watching where you spend your money and what form you are using.
McNeil suggests consumers use cash at stores and gas stations, instead of debit cards.
He also encourages shoppers to use credit cards on store purchases. Credit card companies offer more protection than debit cards do if money is stolen.
Attorney General Roy Cooper suggests you put a fraud alert on your credit report. It's good for 90 days.
Cooper said you don't need to cancel your card unless you see unauthorized charges on it.