Debit Info Thieves Strike Again

By: KKTV 11 News
By: KKTV 11 News

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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  • by Anonymous Location: colorado springs on Jun 24, 2011 at 03:28 PM
    totally agree with you Larry. People use their debit cards for everything even items that cost a couple of dollars. They were not intended to be used this way. I use cash and credit cards and then pay my credit card bill off at the end of the month. And I only use my credit cards for airline tickets, groceries or other items that will be over 100.00. If someone were to steal my credit card number I will at least still have money in the bank.
  • by ryan on Jun 24, 2011 at 11:57 AM
    My girlfriend was affected. She's joining the class action lawsuit a woman started in Illinois.
  • by Jenna Location: CS on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:28 AM
    Why hasn't anyone who has shopped there canceled their cards? Wouldn't that be the obvious thing to do to prevent theft? I hadn't shopped there since January but I cancelled my cards just in case.
  • by Sarah on Jun 24, 2011 at 09:43 AM
    Larry I agree with a lot of what you said but there is a huge upside to using debit cards compared to credit cards and that is credit cards have a huge interest rate and there is no interest on debit cards!
  • by Bob Location: Falcon on Jun 24, 2011 at 08:35 AM
    Jay, did you read the article? It says Michaels has replaced its terminals and refunded the stolen money. Why would you punish the victim even more by not shopping there?
    • reply
      by Pete on Jun 24, 2011 at 02:16 PM in reply to Bob
      Bob, You did nto read the article, Michaels in this one and the past article are saying its not their fault and sucks to be you. The banks are the ones stepping up and fixing things. We will never shop there ever again and i hope they go out of business.
  • by Jenn on Jun 24, 2011 at 08:34 AM
    I got a call from USAA the other night saying that they have to cancel my card and send me a new one. I did shop at Michael's back in March so I'm thinking that's why. But apparently the thieves didn't get anything b/c I'm broke anyways...LOL!!
  • by Larry Location: Pueblo West on Jun 24, 2011 at 07:25 AM
    I've been telling my friends and family for years not to use those check cards. There is no upside to them in comparison to credit cards. The other thing is that people keep way too much in their checking accounts instead of leaving it in a money market account and transferring to checking when needed. You can further protect yourselves by not allowing the banks to honor debit card transactions in excess of your balances. This is just another example of just how financially ignorant the average American is. The economic problems of the last few years and continual financial abuse by government officials is a result of this ignorance. And crooks love it.
    • reply
      by Jenn on Jun 24, 2011 at 08:36 AM in reply to Larry
      That's what I do...I keep just what I need in my checking acct. I put the rest away elsewhere and take what I need if I need it.
  • by jay on Jun 24, 2011 at 07:06 AM
    ummm maybe untill they catch them dont go to michaels store,,,its so sad they stoop lower and lower every day to get hard working peopls money because they are to lazy to work
  • by mark Location: colo springs on Jun 24, 2011 at 07:06 AM
    cutomers beware I bank at us bank and this happened to me about 4 yrs ago-same situation money was drawn out of my account in southern calif and took me about 6 monthes to receive my money back into my account
  • by Bob on Jun 24, 2011 at 07:03 AM
    Debit cards are the scourge of Americans. It removes the money from your account immediately, and there's absolutely no benefit. Use a credit card for everything! You'll get money back or flier miles as a bonus. You'll have all your purchases for everything, on 12 easy to maintain, monthly statements, instead of a boxfull of receipts. And, credit card companies and banks, insure most fraudulent purchases, and your money is not tied up . It's like getting a 6 week loan, without interest, if you pay off your cards monthly
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