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Fraud can be more costly if you fail to check bank statements

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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

A Mesa woman says her gym let a scammer use her debit card for almost two years and when the error was finally spotted, the gym refused to give back any of the money. This case is a good example of why consumers need to review their bank statements every month.

With cases of stolen debit card numbers, the bank will typically refund the money you lost, but only if you spot and report the fraud in a reasonable period of time. But if you don't check your bank statements closely, and you miss something you should have caught, you could end up with only a fraction of your money back.

"I'm angry, it's just not right," Donna Marie Hoffower said.

Hoffower is a member of LA Fitness. She uses the location at Stapley and University in Mesa and pays her monthly dues with her BBVA Compass debit card. She said at the end of 2012 she spotted an extra gym charge on her bank statement and asked LA Fitness what it was for.

"We were being charged for a third party, and do we know a Donald Roberts?" said Hoffower.

Hoffower said he didn't know Roberts.

"He said, 'does your husband know him?' And I said, 'no, absolutely not,'" Hoffower said.

Someone named Donald Roberts had been fraudulently charging his monthly LA Fitness dues to Hoffower's card and he'd been doing it for almost two years. Hoffower doesn't know how this man stole her card number, but she feels LA Fitness dropped the ball.

"They're the ones who took the information over the phone, from a man, when it was a woman's name on the account clearly, when I was in the gym every day," Hoffower said.

Hoffower said LA Fitness refused to refund any of the fraudulent charges.

"They said 'it's not our fault,' and the bank would have to refund any money due," Hoffower said.

BBVA Compass agreed to refund only three months worth of charges. Hoffower says the bank told her she should have spotted the fraud sooner and she was responsible for the rest. Hoffower knows her nearly $400 loss could have easily been avoided if she had just read her statements.

"Double-check the charges, print out an online statement, and look at them so we can check off each and every one," Hoffower said.

Banks typically credit only two months of recurring charges like this. They expect you to read your statements and catch the fraud within that time period - that's why it's so important to read your statements and report fraud promptly.

CBS 5 News reached out to both BBVA Compass and LA Fitness. LA Fitness never responded about how this could have slipped by them for so long, but BBVA Compass helped open up a dialogue between the gym and Hoffower.  After some discussion, Hoffower says LA Fitness agreed to give her a refund of $175.

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