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SRP customers most recent victims of larger theft scheme

Posted: January 10, 2016 - 1:03am

Columbia County authorities are investigating numerous reports from customers of one particular credit union that their financial accounts were fraudulently used.

Between Dec. 30 and Thursday, more than 20 customers of SRP Federal Credit Union said someone used their cards to make purchases at local retail stores even though they still had their cards, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Staff Sgt. Ken Summers.

Despite recent arrests of people placing card skimmers on area ATM machines, Summers said he doesn’t believe the compromise is directly associated with SRP as the bank is more likely the latest target of a larger fraud and theft scheme that has affected other banks in the past few months.

“While we do see a pattern associated with some SRP accounts being compromised and being used at certain locations, there are other credit cards and financial institutions that have been touched by this,’’ he said.

“While we do see a pattern associated with one institution, it is not limited to them.”

Summers said the sheriff’s office began getting a dramatically increased number of claims of identify fraud beginning in November and December affecting customers of various banks and credit card companies.

He believes the compromise is not within the bank itself, but likely an associated person or company possibly a company that handles the card processing.

The incidents certainly aren’t occurring just within the confines of Columbia County.

“We’re working with other law enforcement agencies and other financial institutions trying to figure out if there’s a compromise inside the processing system or something,” Summers said.

The thieves are likely stealing from accounts in particular “bin numbers,” which are associated with particular banks. So everyone with a debit or credit card is at risk of being a victim.

Most of the stolen financial card information from SRP customers was used to make purchases at area Wal-Mart stores, mostly the stores on Bobby Jones Expressway and Steiner Way in Grovetown. The amounts of the transactions are similar, with most reporting stolen amounts of $254.94 and $304.94, according to sheriff’s office incident reports.

Summers said the best way for people to protect themselves is to be vigilant about their accounts.

“The first thing people need to do is check their statements,” Summers said.

“Everybody with every (local financial) institution needs to be checking their bank statements daily if possible.”

Any suspicious activity should be reported to the credit card company or bank immediately.

“The financial institutions are working with the customers to make sure the customers remain whole,” Summers said.

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