Bank fraud widens to Albany -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bank fraud widens to Albany

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Police have a warning for anyone with a debit card: check your account. Widespread debit card fraud in Sylvester has spread to include some Albany banks. More than 100 people may have fallen victim. Investigators are still working on a common link to all the unauthorized transactions.

The Dougherty County Sheriff's Office got another call Monday morning from someone who noticed money missing from their account. They're encouraging anyone who used a debit card in Sylvester recently to check their account multiple times a day.

More than 100 people innocently taking care of their daily business have fallen victims to thieves who've stolen thousands through a single swipe of their debit card.

In Sylvester, investigators continue to search for the common link. "We're just trying to find out the common factor with everyone who's been a victim," Sylvester Police Sgt. George Hall.

More banks, including several in Albany have come forward to say their customers have reported money missing from their accounts.

"We're basically trying to turn over every rock, looking under every rock to see what's going on and how we can stop this information which has already been leaked out, how we can go about stopping the leak," Hall said.

Investigators are still trying to determine if a skimmer was used to steal account information or if someone hacked a merchants system to gain customers information. Investigators say debit cards are easily targeted.

"Debit cards tend to be a little more dangerous, they're extremely dangerous to use on the internet. I don't recommend anyone use a debit card for purchases on the internet," said Dougherty County Sheriff Capt. Craig Dodd.

Right now they're recommending you check your debt card account several times a day and if you notice irregular withdrawals contact your bank immediately. Because a debit card doesn't always require a signature or pin number, investigators recommend putting a limit on your card.

"I know you can set a limit as to how much can be used in a day," said Dodd.

In an effort to keep the criminals from draining your account.

The Secret Service along with the fraud departments at several banks are helping law enforcement in an effort to find those responsible. If you notice any unauthorized transactions on your statement, you should contact your bank first.

They can let you know if you need to make a formal complaint with police.

  • More details on the safety differences between debit and credit cards-

Credit cards offer better protection! Under federal law you're only responsible for paying the first 50 dollars of unauthorized charges.

And if you notify your credit card company before a thief uses your card, you may not owe anything.

With debit cards,  the $50 rule applies but only if you notify your bank within two business days the card's loss or theft.

Your liability can jump up to $500 of you don't report the problem within those two business days.

And it gets worse: you could be totally liable for any fraudulent debit card charges if you wait 60 days or more from the time your statement is mailed.

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