Card fraud continues to ring up big hassles
By Joe Moskowitz
Death and taxes aren’t the only sure things that people are talking about in these parts were talking about over the past week.
Those two old topics of conversation have been pushed aside by the weather and credit-card fraud. The winter that won’t go away, it snowed on each of the first five days of spring, and credit-card fraud, everyone seems to know someone who has been hacked, are the hot topics of conversation on everyone’s lips. And the weather is running a distant second to what appears to be a blizzard of local credit card fraud.
Thousands of customers of most of the area’s banks have been affected, even if their accounts have not been hacked.
On March 21, NBT cancelled all of its customers’ cards and sent out new cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). In a letter explaining the decision, NBT told customers, “While we have received no information at this time that indicates any fraudulent use of your card, we believe that cancelling your card and issuing a new one to you is the best course of action.”
Delaware National Bank of Delhi did the same thing.
Some customers didn’t get the information in time or because their cards had indeed been compromised, the cancellations created inconvenience and embarrassment.
Arkville Postmaster Brenda Hasay told the News that she was shopping last week at a store in Kingston that only accepts cash or debit cards. Unbeknownst to her, her card had been cancelled by her bank and she just had to walk away, unable to pay for the items she wished to purchase.
Another local woman, who asked not to be identified, was in Albany last week and needed to buy gas to drive home. She had no cash with her, but had money in the bank. When she tried to buy gas with her debit card she learned that it had been canceled and, unable to buy enough gas with which to drive home, she was stranded for hours.
But Steven Koester of Arkville had nothing but praise for the quick action by the banks. Hackers made charges on three of his cards within one week, two USAA debt cards and a credit card from Chase. He said the banks spotted the fraudulent activity very quickly and prevented additional charges from being racked up.
Koester told the News that the fraudulent charges were made at Freshtown Marketplace and at HessEXpress on Route 28 in Arkville.
Another man, who asked not to be identified, told the News that after the Delaware National Bank of Delhi canceled his card, he charged purchases on a MasterCard that he hadn’t used in years. Within hours after swiping the card at Freshtown and Dollar General, there were four fraudulent charges made on his account at stores in Pennsylvania.
The banks and police still won’t discuss the hacking problem with the news media, but customers who have spoken with employees at various banks said they were told the security breach isn’t coming from the stores, but rather through the card processing centers.
Regardless of the source, many people told the News this week that they are keeping their credit and debit cards in their pockets and using cash. It’s safer.
Editor’s note: A story on Page 1A in last week’s News about credit card fraud reported that $13,000 worth of merchandise was charged to a credit card account held by Dry Brook resident Alan Misner. An editor’s typing error lead to an extra 0 in the amount reported in the story. The correct amount should have been $1,300, which was bad enough!