LOUISVILLE (WAVE) - Donna Johnson of Louisville received her child support payments each month via a state provided debit card. In July, Johnson went online to check to see if the latest deposit had been made. The funds from her ex-husband had indeed been deposited earlier in her account, but it's what else she noticed that Johnson says terrified her.
"Within a few hours there were about ten charges all from the same company, some National Express, which I don't know what that is, totaling almost the entire amount of my child support!"
Johnson called U.S. Bank, the company that issued the card. They passed her off to another company called ReliaCard - its logo also appears on her debit card.
According to the U.S. Bank / ReliaCard website, "the U.S. Bank ReliaCard Visa is a cost-effective funds transfer solution available to government agencies with recurring disbursements."
Relia-Card told Johnson that the charges were still pending but they would have to wait until they actually cleared before the company could do anything about it. That upset Johnson even more and she turned to us for help.
"My concern is that they had no interest in helping me whatsoever until you got involved," Johnson said. "And then they were very quick to fix it."
Within a week of our phone call, Johnson saw results: the company refunded all of the money that had been withdrawn from her account.
There was some concern as to how an individual or organization was able to automatically withdraw funds from a state provided account. We called the Cabinet for Health & Family Services in Frankfort to see if their system had been hacked and if other customers had reported such fraud on their accounts. Steve Veno, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Income and Support, told us this was an isolated incident and that the department's system is totally secure.
"Actually, we contract with a debit card company who provides the security for their cards and of course our statewide computer system, where the money comes through, is very secure," according to Veno, who told us the Relia-Card debit card system is "very secure."
"Whenever though you use your card - you know on the internet to shop - you know you have to exercise due caution as everyone does, not just this particular debit card," Veno said.
Veno offered other solutions to prevent such theft from occurring.
"The one I would recommend the most is electronic funds transfers, or direct deposit," said Veno. "That's the most secure way and it's actually going into your bank account."
Johnson claims that the last time she used that debit card was not online, but at the Auburn University bookstore buying supplies for her son. In order to avoid any future problems, Johnson decided to no longer use the state supplied debit card for her child support money. She's now having those monies deposited directly into her personal account.
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