South Georgians report suspicious bank account charges - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgians report suspicious bank account charges

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Suspicious credit and debit card charges are appearing on some south georgia bank accounts.

Banks say those fraudulent charges likely are linked to a security breach last year at a national payment processing company.

In January, Heartland Payment Systems Inc. announced that its system, used to process debit and credit card transactions all over the nation, was breached.

This week card holders in south georgia are seeing what could be the results of that hacking.

When Tim Watkins made a trip to the ATM Sunday morning, he walked away empty handed.

"All my money was gone," Tim said.

Come to find out he went on a $500 shopping spree. Only he wasn't doing the shopping.

"There were several charges, about eight, all in Orlando, and I haven't been there in 3 months," he said.

"Also all of them were at gas stations."

Tim isn't alone. Several south georgians have reported suspicious purchases to their local banks this week.

And bank representatives say it all started in 2008 when Heartland Payment Systems, a company that processes debit and credit card purchases across the US, was hacked into. Leaving millions of accounts across the nation vulnerable.

Now strange purchases are popping up in Georgia.

Many banks are taking proactive steps to keep their customers safe. At Farmers and Merchants bank in Thomasville, even some customers whose accounts were not compromised, are getting new debit cards in the mail this week.

"We're sending them new debit cards, and a letter explaining the situation," said Erin Grace, a representative for Farmers and Merchants Bank.

They're also advising account holders everywhere to keep a close eye on their accounts.

"Be watchful for unusual activity. Online banking is helpful," said Grace.

And if you see anything suspicious, report it immediately, to your bank, and law enforcement.

"Come file a report. We'll contact that area and try and get surveillance video, try and catch the criminals," said Investigator Tim Watkins with the Thomas county Sheriff's office.

As for his son Tim Watkins Jr., he's just happy his hard earned money is back where it belongs, in his hands.

"I was just shocked it happened to me," he said.

And it could happen to you too. No need to panic, just be aware. Watch your account closely, and report anything suspicious.

Suspicious charges reported in Thomasville range from $20 to thousands of dollars.

Find out more about the Heartland breach:

http://www.2008breach.com/

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