Debit Card Fraud On Rise In Upstate

Local banks are warning there’s been a rise in debit card fraud and it means you should pay extra attention to the charges on your account.

In many cases the spike is for transactions under $50 where you don’t have to enter a pin number.

A simple transaction, filling up gas, turned an Army Reserve Specialist into a debit card fraud victim.

Christopher McCollum said, “I thought I dropped my wallet, but when I realized I didn’t drop my wallet and I still had my wallet in my possession along with my card, I didn’t know what to think.”

McCollum said within minutes of swiping his card, thieves tried to drain his savings.

Banks and Credit Unions are warning it’s more important than ever to watch your account.

Jessica Baker, with SC TELCO Federal Credit Union, said “We have noticed an uptick in fraudulent charges just over the last several months and it’s happening more locally now than it ever has before.  Previously what would happen is somebody would steal a debit card or get that number and try and use it in a different state.  Now it’s happening in our own state and sometimes even our own hometowns.”

That may make you less likely to notice the fraud.

Also, watch out for smaller transactions.  Banks say card thieves are making purchases under $50 dollars because many retailers don’t require a PIN.

Let’s say you don’t catch the fraudulent charge. Here’s what happens.  Within 60 days of the transaction you could be held responsible for $50 and then after that, the entire amount.

McCullom says if there’s one thing he’s learned in the service, it’s to be prepared.  Months before, he had downloaded a mobile banking app and programmed it to send him an alert every time a transaction went through.

He said the banking app, “saved me from losing money, and it saved others from losing money also.”

The bank stopped the charges, discovered a skimming machine was to blame, and prevented more people from falling victim.

McCullom attributes the success to the banks and the app, and not himself.

“I’m not the hero, the app is the hero.”

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