Use extra care in light of debit card breaches

Nov 29, 2013

Through the years, paying bills has evolved from barter to cash to checks and now credit or debit cards.

Each transition held its challenges through the years, and the lastest form of paying for services or merchandise certainly comes with a downside.

Now that few people carry cash, getting mugged on the street isn’t so much of a threat, but there is a much more insidious way for a thief to separate someone from their money.

There’s a whole network of technology behind the electronic payment system that’s now the most common form of exchange in modern society. Unfortunately, this creates many levels where fraud is possible — a truth many in Haywood County have learned the hard way.

Several hundred residents, not to mention a number of businesses, have become victims of a sophisticated scheme whereby debit card numbers have been collected, bundled and used by others to make purchases across the country, and even in other nations.

One of the common denominators in where the number theft originated was Bojangles, though there have been other businesses that have been hit as well.

Presently, banks and credit unions are working with their customers to address the unauthorized charges. In the case of Champion Credit Union, the financial institution that has been the most forthcoming in working with law enforcement, credit union members are being compensated for all unauthorized charges.

The situation has made it necessary to take a number of precautions. The best tip local detectives can offer is to keep a constant eye on your bank account and keep all of your receipts, especially while shopping more than usual this holiday season.

To be on the safe side, banks can cancel your debit card number and reissue a new one, in case you think you may have used your card at Bojangles’ months ago and it could be compromised.

It’s important to note that businesses like Bojangles  and others who have been caught in this scheme are also victims.

Detectives believe that in this type of case, some type of malware could have been installed on the business’ system perhaps through an infected email originating from overseas.

While swiping a debit or credit card is, by far, the easiest form of payment that’s evolved to date, it is important to be aware of the downsides.

Many of the purchases made with stolen cards starts small with a 99-cent transaction for example. Then the person makes a large purchase, some of them up to $900. If you notice a small transaction made somewhere that you usually don’t shop, that is a red flag. Contacting your bank and law enforcement immediately is the best way to take care of the problem before it gets worse.