D‘s debit-card number was stolen even though the card itself was not. Here’s her story, with a message for you:

Somehow-someway, my debit card number has been compromised, likely at a business point of sale from somewhere in my neighborhood, Highland Park-White Center-Arbor Heights.

Yesterday someone was using my debit card numbers to drain my bank account at the Arbor Heights 7-11 ATM while my card and I were elsewhere.

My bank texted/called me around 3 PM yesterday with an alert that $120 was being withdrawn out of my account from the ATM at the 9200 35th Ave SW 7-11. I…was at Joann Fabrics in Tukwila with my card safely tucked in my pocket.

I responded to the bank fraud analyst immediately. They asked if I had withdrawn $$$ at 2:45 and then again at 2:46, then asked about all of the places I’d been in the last 2 days – including my grocery purchase at QFC the night before.

I’ve contacted the police and am headed to meet the 7-11 manager this morning to see about getting a video for the investigators.

It is a bit shocking but I guess not particularly surprising. I’m just thankful that I had my bank notification buttons set to contact me so quickly, and thankful I still have enough to pay bills. I will have to make a claim with the bank during business hours tomorrow and will likely get the money back.

I guess I’m just writing to you so you can let your readers know to be vigilant with their cards – or make sure that they have account notifications set on their card use at the very least.

D. has a temporary SPD report # so far – T22029992. Meantime, be aware there are many ways card-number theft can happen; in addition to signing up for notifications, here are ways to reduce the chance you’ll be hit.

30 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Surprise theft"

  • Mj December 4, 2022 (10:07 pm)

    D this sucks, that is why I refuse to use debit cards, credit cards provide protection against unauthorized use.

    • David December 5, 2022 (5:13 am)

      Same here Mj.  I never use a debit card for purchases – only credit cards.  I only use my debit card if I need to get cash from a bank ATM (I never use a 7-11 or mom and pop store ATM)..  

      I also have alerts set on all my credit cards and debit card.  Whenever I make a purchase I get a notification on my cell phone within seconds that my card was used/charge approved.  Also get immediate notifications when I use my debit card for ATM cash withdrawals.

    • Mark S December 5, 2022 (8:49 am)

      I second the motion on using credit cards instead of debit cards.  If someone drains your checking account using a stolen debit card account #, you have all the hassles of possible overdraft fees and returned checks and automatic payments for non-sufficient funds.  Plus, your Bank will want to close the account and open a new one.  At least with credit cards, you have a grace period between when your monthly statement is available and when the payment is due.  So, if you discover fraudulent activity, you have time to deal with it before needing to make a payment.

      • CAM December 5, 2022 (12:03 pm)

        Most debit cards these days are insured by a major credit card company (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) and the money is back in your account nearly instantly after it is reported. Your card is insured for fraud and theft much the same way a credit card is and you will not lose your money from your bank accounts. It is still a hassle and will take hours/days/weeks of your life to undo, but is no more onerous than the process of fixing credit card theft. The biggest hassle I experienced the last time it happened was waiting for the new card to arrive and dealing with a temporary card in between. 

      • T December 6, 2022 (1:30 pm)

        I’ve had my debit card hacked twice .I had no problem with the bank returning the money to my account.

  • AdmyrlByrd December 4, 2022 (10:08 pm)

    Thanks so much for sharing and sorry this happened to you.  Hope the ID where this happened and who did it.  Otherwise others are probably getting skimmed as well.

  • 1994 December 4, 2022 (10:27 pm)

    D, please let us know if 7-11 allows you to view any video they have of the time your card was used at their ATM. My mother had a similar experience with an ARCO but ARCO refused to allow her view video due to privacy concerns….maybe police can access it? Or is a search warrant needed?

    • WSB December 4, 2022 (11:02 pm)

      D did send me a followup note saying they won’t release video to her but would to police.

  • Beto December 4, 2022 (10:34 pm)

    Sounds very scary! Thanks for the information. I rarely use a debit card, but it is still very  worrying to hear about your experience.

  • bolo December 4, 2022 (10:51 pm)

    I too was a victim of credit card fraud. D., you are doing well so far, good on you for being so vigilant and proactive. The bank can drag its feet to fully reimburse you so keep on them.

    Wondering if D. is a victim of a gas pump or ATM CC skimmer:

    +++BIG THANKS+++ to WSB for listing helpful links (for recognizing and avoiding CC fraud) at the bottom of the posting.

  • CreditCrazy December 5, 2022 (3:48 am)

    To repeat what others have said, you are much better off using a credit card in making purchases in general. If something goes wrong, it’s the issuing card bank’s money that’s on the line, not yours. If you give notice in a timely manner of fraudulent activity on your credit card, you are at most liable for $50, if even that. The only time I ever use my debit card is to withdraw cash at an ATM.

  • Audifans December 5, 2022 (4:48 am)

    I have a lot of empathy for this woman. However, Debit cards are a terrible idea to use. “Drain your bank account” can occur, where regular credit cards limit your liability. Warning to those who use debit cards, indeed.

  • anonyme December 5, 2022 (6:41 am)

    I’ve been the victim of credit card fraud twice in the last 3 years, despite being hyper-vigilant and the cards never having been out of my possession.  The info must have been sold on the dark web, as the sales took place in several states.  A branch of Harbor Freight in Texas sold nearly $500 worth of tools to a guy who had a list of credit card numbers on a scrap of paper.  The first two numbers were declined, but mine went through – and the employee allowed it.  They said this was common practice for their store – and the surveillance cameras “weren’t working”.  Most recently, I inadvertently clicked on a link in a fraudulent Amazon notification.  (I know, I know – it was 4 am, and my finger went there while my sleeping brain screamed ‘NOOOO”.)  I found out during this fiasco that the store does not lose money, only the credit card company does – passed on to customers who pay the fees and high interest.  Obviously, there is no incentive for businesses to be vigilant about this kind of crime.  Has anyone else noticed the number of data/security breaches in the last couple of years?  I’ve gotten at least 4 notices in the last year; very worrying.  More attention needs to be paid to cyber security.

  • westseattleguy December 5, 2022 (8:12 am)

    This same scenario happened to me this weekend.   Made a purchase with my debit at Westwood QFC on Friday, then Saturday got a fraud notification that an ATM withdrawal for $180 just occurred at the BECU in Safeway on Roxbury.  Not sure what’s up, what a pain…

  • Karen December 5, 2022 (8:33 am)

    This happened to me on a Sunday afternoon several y ears ago.  In a little over three hours my entire monthly paycheck was spent online for electronics and games.  My bank did not notify me,  I discovered it when failing to make a small purchase.   We were reimbursed after multiple attempts to reach the fraud department.  We are no longer with that bank.

  • WSresident December 5, 2022 (9:00 am)

    How can a debit card be used at an ATM without a PIN number?

    • OneTimeCharley December 5, 2022 (9:29 am)

      If a debit card has been used at a compromised ATM (or a point of sale terminal) that is equipped with an illegal data ‘skimmer’, and/or pinhole keypad camera, then the PIN is recorded along with the account number, etc.

      • Admyrl Byrd December 5, 2022 (10:54 am)

        It’s either that or the skimmer was on a POS device where you elect to “use Debit card as credit” so doesn’t require a PIN.  (Even worse idea)

  • Gerry December 5, 2022 (10:25 am)

    Sorry you and others are going through this, D.As mentioned by others, I also use debit card only at ATMs, and I cover my hand when I am punching in the PIN, in case someone has installed a scanner above.

    • Auntie December 5, 2022 (11:12 am)

      There could be a skimmer on an ATM, also. I always try to wiggle the keypad before I insert my card. 

  • Jay December 5, 2022 (10:29 am)

    A debit card spends your money and has limited theft protections. You have to fight to get the money back in your account. A credit card spends the bank’s money, and in the case of fraud or theft the bank is the one who loses the money. You aren’t responsible because you didn’t spend the money, the thief stole from the bank not you. It’s the bank fraud team’s responsibility to recover that money. I only use indoor, monitored ATMs (like in a bank or pot shop) and a credit card everywhere else.

  • rodlee December 5, 2022 (11:35 am)

    I found out that my debit card could be used like a credit card.  There is even a pin on the back of the card.

  • zobegyju December 5, 2022 (12:16 pm)

    Those advocating for “credit cards only” assume that everyone has the credit rating to be offered a credit card. For those who may have ruined credit through situations sometimes out of their control such as medical emergency bills which lead toward severe debt and/or bankruptcy, or other crises, a credit card may not be accessible.

  • Scubafrog December 5, 2022 (1:17 pm)

    That would be great if police get video and prosecutors get a conviction.  An obviously invasive and awful thing to go through undoubtedly.

  • K December 5, 2022 (4:53 pm)

    The police wouldnt get the video for me. They only do that for murders. They are too busy.

  • Confused December 5, 2022 (6:27 pm)

    The poster clearly stated that she had the debit card with her so how is it possible to make an ATM withdrawal without the card???

  • Dan Keller December 5, 2022 (9:31 pm)

    MJ.  I have B of A and have fraud protection on my debit card.  I had one incident when I received a fraud alert for $1600.00.  Had that money back in 20 minutes.

  • Lindynw December 5, 2022 (9:41 pm)

    I am just as confused as “CONFUSED”…I don’t understand how an ATM withdrawal can be made without the card. How can a POS transaction happen in a store without a card, for that matter?

  • Oh Seattle December 6, 2022 (5:54 am)

    Sounds like there may be a skimmer at QFC Westwood.  It would be interesting to know if D and Westseattleguy used the same checkout at QFC.  It will also be interesting to see if the police actually will get involved.  I filed police reports when my credit cards were being stolen after they were scanned in at the post office but before they arrived at my locked mailbox and then fraudulently used.  Never heard from the police or the postmaster.  The manager of the 98116 post office did let me know there’s no way it was an inside job because everyone liked the guy delivering my route…

  • OriginalMV December 19, 2022 (9:35 am)

    My wife’s debit card info was compromised in the past few days, or at least that’s when the fraudulent incidents began. And she doesn’t even shop at QFC. I would think QFC is unlikely to be a location for a skimmer because there is basically a camera at every register and door. Small convenience stores and gas pumps are more likely because those locations are more accessible and have less oversight. Rather than QFC having a skimmer, it is more plausible that the criminal(s) are waiting a few days or maybe even weeks to begin using the skimmed card info so as to make back-tracing the skimmer location more difficult. The criminals could have even physically removed the skimmer by that point, further covering their tracks. Personally, I only use my debit card at my bank’s exterior ATM, and my credit card is not set up to allow cash advances. The worst fraud that I’ve ever experienced was when someone tried to buy $3k of paintball accessories online, but it automatically bounced.  

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