Dollar Bank canceled Visas without notice

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An undisclosed number of Dollar Bank Visa cardholders this week faced a potentially embarrassing situation -- or worse -- when the Pittsburgh-based bank abruptly canceled their credit cards without notice because of fraudulent transactions tied to the Target security breach.

Some cardholders said they discovered they had been cut off after trying to use their cards and having the transactions denied.

A Dollar Bank spokeswoman said Friday the bank had been working to identify accounts compromised in the mass merchant's data breach over the Christmas shopping season when a large number of fraudulent transactions began popping up. Target has said the security breach affected millions of customers.

"We had identified some of our Visa customers affected by the Target compromise and were in the process of canceling them when we saw the level of fraud was accelerating very quickly and decided to turn those cards off immediately," said Kristen Miles, vice president of marketing.

Ms. Miles said the accounts were canceled "Tuesday or Wednesday" and replacement cards were mailed out.

She did not disclose how many cards were canceled, but said "less than 5 percent of our Visa customers were part of the Target compromise." Customer debit cards were unaffected, she said.

A Dollar customer in the South Hills who didn't want to be identified found out Thursday night that her card had been canceled when she tried to pay her automobile insurance bill online, and her card was declined.

"I thought it was a joke," the customer said. "There was no advance notice. We didn't get an email. We got nothing."

She continued: "I'm taking people to dinner tomorrow night and paying. How embarrassing would that be to hand over the card and be declined," she said, adding that it might even be more serious for someone trying to buy medicine or get gas on the highway.

Ms. Miles said there wasn't time to give customers notice. "Ideally we would have gotten an email out prior to the [new] cards, but we were working quickly to stop the additional fraud," she said.

"We were acting as quickly as possible to assist the volume of customers."

Dollar is urging affected customers to monitor their accounts for suspicious transactions. Cardholders who notify the bank within 60 days of unauthorized use are not liable for the charges, Ms. Miles said.

Under federal law, customer liability on unauthorized credit card purchases is capped at $50, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's website. People whose card number is stolen, but not the actual card, aren't liable at all for fraudulent transactions.

Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.


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