First on 3: FBI now involved in North Georgia bank scam
WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson has now added his name and many of his department staff to the long list of local victims having their money used worldwide.
So far scammers have hit more than 500 customers from the North Georgia area totaling more than $20,000.
Wilson says he received a call last week from his bank saying his account was compromised.
"As we talked to them we found there had been 8 charges to our account totaling over $600," Wilson said.
Those transactions were from areas in Michigan at a store the sheriff has never visited.
So far customers from 18 banks have been victims and according to the FBI there were transactions as far away as Mexico and Egypt.
Wilson says he has a more watchful eye on his account and how he uses his debit card.
"We are always going to be looking around to see if anyone is trying to steal our pin number," he says.
The first step if you're hit is to call the bank and then you need to complete a police report.
The investigation is still in the early stages, but card information may be sold over the Internet.
Jeff Kovach of Northwest Georgia Bank says the crooks hit at least 60 of his customer.
They are trying to pinpoint where and how this is happening.
"To explain or determine that is extremely difficult," Kovach said. "We are doing everything we can within our power."
The FBI will send field agents to meet with Sheriff Wilson to try and locate a source of the problem.
Agents say this is the first case of this magnitude to hit North Georgia and could be a lengthy process tracking down the criminals.
Channel 3 did talk to consumer credit counseling about the difference between credit versus debit cards.
They say you're a little more protected with credit cards, because the money doesn't come directly out of your account.
With a debit card, you could have $50 in your account but charges could be racked up into the hundreds, because there's nothing to stop the charges.
Kovach wanted to stress that his bank is covering clearly fraudulent charges made customer's accounts, adding "the banks will make it whole."