Accounts blocked, cards canceled after third-party alert

Accounts blocked, cards canceled after third-party alert
Local credit card customers are suddenly finding their accounts have been blocked, and their cards being canceled.

The problem? A possible security compromise. The bank says there is no evidence that accounts have been misused, but will only identify the potential problem as coming from an undisclosed third-party.

It's the latest in what seems to be an endless string of customer alerts from major banks and credit card companies.

The letter informs customers, in part:

"We have learned that some credit card information on your Bank of America account may have been compromised at an undisclosed third-party location. To ensure your account is protected, we have taken the following steps.

"We have reviewed your account activity and see no evidence that your account has been misused in any way. We will continue to monitor activity on your account, and if we detect suspicious transactions, we will notify you.

"As an added measure of security, we will close your existing account and issue you a new account number and credit card(s)."

Bank of America won't say how many customers received the notices. In fact, the company is not saying much at all. I made multiple calls both locally, and to B of A offices in California and North Carolina.

Corporate spokeswoman Betty Riess would only tell me: "We have strong fraud monitoring procedures in place. If we think a card may have been compromised, as a precaution, we will take this type of action."

When I pressed for the extent of the potential compromise or more about the third-party source, the response was always the same -- No comment on numbers, no comment on details.

According to consumer blogs, the alerts likely started in January. Customers are weighing in online about the unanswered questions.

On Bank of America's Web site, where customers are referred for more information about data compromise, there more information about the company's security measures and instructions on what to do in the case of a compromise.

The Web site also emphasizes assurances, that the company is actively safeguarding customer information and that there's no evidence any accounts have been misused.

In the meantime, regardless of where you bank, check all your statements carefully every month. And don't stop with your credit card statements. Check every statement that records activity where you have accounts.

So far this year, there have been 56 reported security breaches at health care facilities, online retailers, universities, military and government offices, and several banks, not counting whatever prompted the latest alert from Bank of America.

For more information:

Chronology of Data Breaches

PRC: Chronology of Data Breaches