Banks Freeze Debit Cards After TJ Maxx Computers Are Hijacked - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/26/07

Banks Freeze Debit Cards After TJ Maxx Computers Are Hijacked

Debit cards. Nowadays, they are almost as good as cold, hard cash. But, your debit card may be on a freeze, and you don't know it yet.

Last week, WTOC told you about a computer system security breach with TJ Maxx's parent company, TJX Inc. (See Hijackers Steal Customer Credit Information and More from TJ Maxx Parent Company.) Credit, debit and checking information was all stolen by hackers.

Millions of TJ Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods customers had their personal security compromised.

Many banks are taking precautions to protect their customers. Some are freezing debit cards which have been used at any of the stores anytime from May until December of last year. So, if  you go to use it, don't be surprised if your debit card doesn't work.

"It was pretty shocking," Carol Slappey said.

Slappey is the president of the Heritage Bank branch in Albany, Georgia. Heritage has a branch in Savannah, too. She says credit card companies are checking accounts and notifying banks.

"This is not just a Visa issue," Slappey said. "This is MasterCard, American Express, Discover,  many of the major credit cards were compromised."

In some cases, banks are "hot carding," which is canceling debit cards of accounts affected by the security breach without prior notice. If someone tries to use their debit card, it won't work.

Some smaller banks, like Heritage and the Coastal Bank, say they are hot carding accounts, but bigger banks like Bank of America say they will notify customers first before they take any action on the account.

"We have fraud software that is monitoring as well as Visa is monitoring the activity with fraud software," Slappey said. "So I think customers are covered."

Rather than wait for them, most banks advise checking your statements for any suspicious transactions. Or, if you fear your information is in danger, contact them immediately.

"If they chose to, they can call the bank and we will immediately block the card," Slappey said.

Many banks are sending out letters this week to customers whose accounts may have fallen victim to the TJ Maxx security fraud. The number of victims affected remains under investigation.

For more information on the TJ Maxx consumer alert, visit www.tjmaxx.com.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

Powered by Frankly