MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Especially during these difficult times, imagine relying on unemployment, only to find your account wiped out — by a scam artist.

That is the situation being faced by one Bay Area native who is coming forward with her story, to keep others from falling victim to the fraud.

The Marin County native says she went to use her EDD debit card at the grocery store Tuesday, but it was declined.

She then checked online and found that someone else had drained her account — stealing nearly a thousand dollars that she was depending on.

“It’s been a really rough year and a couple hundred dollars may not seem like a whole lot to someone, to me it’s literally everything,” she said. “It’s not about Christmas presents, it’s about food. I have a dog, OK, can I feed her and me and pay rent and all of my bills? No, now that this happened I can’t do that.”

A certified fraud examiner says the woman could have fallen victim to a skimming scam, where the card information is gleaned from hardware installed by crooks at ATM or gas pump.

“It makes a duplication of the card difficult, the information that’s on the card on the chip is encrypted so you can’t just take the card and swipe it and get that information because the encryption goes between the reader and the card,” Steve Morang said. “They can’t capture that information as it’s traveling because it’s encrypted that’s the difference between having a chip versus the magnetic strip where that information is not encrypted and it goes right through and you could just read it as it goes through they can read it through their scammers.”

Bank of America administers the EDD debit card program. They say that this type of fraud does happen, but it’s not widespread and it’s not related to other kinds of fraud involving EDD that has been making headlines — including the hundreds of millions in benefits going to state prisoners, or the 400,000 EDD accounts being frozen over concerns of their legitimacy.

And as to why the debit cards don’t have a chip, that was not in their contract with EDD.

The security expert said if you have one of these cards, the best thing to do would be to transfer you funds to your own bank account or at least be very careful where you use this one.

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