Some St. Mary’s Bank customers notified of debit card security breach

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MANCHESTER, NH – Some credit union debit card holders with St. Mary’s Bank were notified recently that their debit cards would be reissued as a precaution, following a merchant-related breach.

“We needed to reissue a block of debit cards as a precaution,” said Elizabeth Stodolski, Vice President of Marketing for St. Mary’s Bank in Manchester. “Unfortunately merchant-related breaches happen all the time.”

Stodolski said the bank was alerted by VISA that some debit card numbers were potentially exposed to a data breach, and so the local credit union acted swiftly by reissuing cards as a security measure.

Stodolski said she did not have specific information as to the date of the breach or what merchants were affected.

“The majority of our cards are working fine,” said Stodolski. Credit union members affected by the breach were notified by mail that a new debit card was being issued.

According to Bankrate.com, data breaches are a real – and all-too common – occurrence, and can mean that personal information on file with credit card and insurance companies, and banks can be compromised.

EMV chip technology, coming soon to a credit/debit card near you.
EMV chip technology, coming soon to a credit/debit card near you.

One way U.S. financial institutions are trying to add more security to consumer credit and debit purchases is participation in Europay, MasterCard and Visa, or EMV chip-embedded credit and debit cards, a security network that is being used globally.

Unlike traditional magnetic-stripe cards, EMV chips use a dynamic security code. And while that code may be harder to crack, nothing is foolproof.

This article on consumerist.com details how retailers like Wal-Mart say EMV may be better, but it’s not going to be enough.

EMV was developed as one way to combat the kind of  large-scale data breaches and increasing reports of counterfeit card fraud that we have seen with the rise of technology-based commerce.

CreditCard.com reports that the eventual switch here in the U.S. will mean new in-store technology and processing systems for merchants, and new cards for consumers.

Although security breaches like the one currently affecting some St. Mary’s Bank customers originated with merchants, there are things a wise consumer should always be doing to help protect themselves from becoming a victim of credit card fraud:

  • Whenever possible, select “credit” over “debit” when making purchase, which allows you to sign for the transaction instead of entering your personal identification number and keeps that vital information out of the data system
  • Shred financial statements
  • Limit online shopping to reputable companies, or rely on one particular card rather than several to make purchases.
  • Regularly monitor your financial accounts for fraud
  • Regularly check your credit report for suspicious activity (creditkarma.com)
  • Lock smartphones and make use of security measures on your computers
  • Don’t be afraid to get stingy with your personal information – ask to use  an alternative identifier rather than your Social Security number

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About Carol Robidoux 5404 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.