WILLIAMSTON, SC (FOX Carolina) -
An Upstate woman and her friend have both lost money from their banking accounts - money they did not spend themselves.
They don't know when their debit card numbers got swiped, but they think there may be more victims in the area.
After a frustrating few days, Gina Koontz still has her actual debit card, but it's been canceled after someone used her debit information to buy things at several Wal-Mart stores in Texas.
"It's really been a headache. I've gone through a lot of time at the bank, a lot of time away from home in dealing with this. And calling the police department, taking care of all this, not to mention the stress of the fact that somebody has hacked into your account. You feel violated. You feel stolen from," said Koontz.
Koontz is now out of $1250, leaving her check account in the red. She happened to check her bank account Wednesday to find the same morning, 14 different transactions were made in sums of $50 or $100 at two different Wal-Mart stores in San Marcos, TX and New Braunfels, TX.
She said one of the Wal-Mart employees told her that she was the third person that morning to call about fraudulent charges at their store.
Koontz mentioned her frustrations to people at her office on Friday and found that a co-worker's daughter had the same thing happen to her.
"And before I could even say, 'at a Walmart in Texas?' she said, 'at a Walmart in Texas!' And I'm like, 'what?'," Koontz said in disbelief.
A third co-worker experienced the same thing herself. Fraudulent transactions for all three happened on the same day.
Koontz said while at least one of the others who had their number stolen did get a fraud alert from her bank, she didn't. She was told that banks monitor accounts for strange activity, but it's important to keep track of it yourself.
Until the bank finishes its investigation, Koontz and her family won't be using their checking account because there's nothing there.
"We do have bills to pay. That's our paychecks every week. That's our livelihood," Koontz said.
A few tips to prevent this from happening to you:
- Check bank statements regularly.
- Protect your pin number.
- Avoid using debit cards for online orders.
- Only use ATM's at a bank.
- Don't use public wireless for financial transactions.
If you think you are a victim, promptly report irregularities to your bank and to the police.