Debit Info Thieves Strike Again

By: KKTV 11 News
By: KKTV 11 News
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It’s the theft that might just keep on giving, to the thieves.

More victims continue to surface following the compromise of pin pads at Michaels stores in Colorado Springs from February 8 and May 6, 2011. The hack resulted in criminals gaining access to the personal information of thousands of customers (the store has since replaced all of their pin pad machines and is investigating how the machines might have been compromised).

One of those customers is Laura Bedard, who banks with Wells Fargo. She says someone in southern California fraudulently withdrew $5,000 from her account a few days ago. Her bank added that there is also $2,000 worth in unprocessed transactions at Hollywood, CA stores and businesses.

"It's scary to think of what else they have. I'm going to change my account numbers…I’m doing that, and then pay cash…It is a hassle,” says Laura Bedard, whose account was compromised.

Her bank is only one of several that have seemingly been impacted by this ongoing scheme. USAA, Armed Forces Bank, and ENT have also had to deal with a surge this past week in illegal transactions without their customers’ consent. The common link has been the Michaels visit (the store has replaced all of their debit card pin pads).

The wave of thefts and financial impersonations only started showing up on bank sheets Sunday. Now, nearly a week later, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Jeff Lanza, a former FBI agent who specialized in financial crimes says the problem from the start remains the reality that debit card transactions can put customers at a higher risk.

“A debit card makes you more vulnerable. They can take all the money out of your bank account without your knowledge and then you have to fight to get the money back from your bank. It's much better if you use a credit card," says Jeff.

He points out that credit cards are safer because if your account were compromised, the money is not tied into your checking account and won’t hold up use of your money.

All of the banks involved are offering to restore the money to the accounts of victimized customers, and warning customers to monitor those accounts daily for any suspicious purchases.

11 News will continue to follow this ongoing investigation, keep you informed as it progresses.

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