Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Use Caution When Paying by Debit Card

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Use Caution When Paying by Debit Card

Article excerpt

Byline: david bauerlein

The lunch left Nina Tillman with a bad case of financial heartburn.

She paid using a debit card, but after leaving the restaurant, she realized she couldn't remember getting the card back from the waitress. She reported the missing card to her bank, which in turn alerted her that someone was using the card for purchases at a nail salon, a Walmart and other retailers.

Two days after Tillman ate lunch at the Applebee's, at 843 S. Lane Ave., police questioned the waitress who had served her. According to a police report, Doris Lynn Bundy, 25, admitted using the debit card. She was jailed on charges of petit theft and fraudulent use of credit cards.

The case shows why consumers must take quick action when they are missing credit cards or debit cards. It also highlights the risk - a low risk, but still something to be aware of - that occurs when you hand over a card and it's taken out of your sight.

Fortunately, Tillman's bank made up for the fraudulent charges.

"I didn't have any financial losses," she said. "It was more the emotional stress. You go out for a nice lunch and then it becomes a nightmare the next day. It's made me a lot more cautious."

A spokeswoman at Applebee's headquarters said she referred my questions to the franchisee of the Lane Avenue restaurant. I didn't get a call back from the franchisee.

Police say it's very unusual for a restaurant employee to take advantage of a customer's charge card information.

"It really doesn't happen very often," said Detective Herb Pittman, who works in the white-collar crime unit of the Clay County Sheriff's Office. "It's not a prevalent crime in this area yet."

He said restaurants typically use machines that only print out the final four digits of a credit card number on the sales receipt, giving some protection to consumers worried about identity theft.

Still, he said it's tough for restaurants to thwart employees determined to get the information. …

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