Rumors about Citizens Bank & Trust Co. warning customers of a credit card hack at the Hutchinson Walmart made the rounds on social media this week, but according to Hutchinson Police Lt. Tom Gifferson, “We don’t have have any information that would indicate that.”
The rumor was likely started in part by confusion about a real warning Citizens sent to customers regarding recent cases of debit card fraud in the St. Cloud and Scott County areas. Gifferson added that Scott County authorities had identified suspects in those cases and were prosecuting.
According to Mike Cannon, executive vice president of personal banking at Citizens, “There were some cases of debit card transactions that were being charged against people’s accounts that were not transactions they had run.”
“In our investigation, what we found out was from one of the many earlier breaches of card information — an example of that would have been Target had a breach, Home Depot had a breach and Arby’s had a breach, as have many other companies over the years — from one of those breaches, people were making debit cards that the accounts were matching up with our customers’ debit cards. The majority of these (fraudulent) transactions were being conducted at some Sam’s Clubs throughout the state of Minnesota.”
In response to the fraud detected last week, Citizens Bank put out what Cannon called a “BIN block” on all of its customers’ accounts across the state, and reached out to certain customers who may have been victims of fraud.
“We place what we call blocks on different kinds of retailers,” he said. “For instance, Sam’s Club falls under a category called wholesale clubs. There’s also a category of grocery stores/supermarkets … So when customers go to a Walmart, and that just happens to be one of the categories we put out there with this last action, we stop a transaction unless they’re using their PIN number with their card. Because these people who have stolen information and made fake cards don’t have your PIN number.”
If a fraudulent charge is identified, Cannon said customers are reimbursed and it is the bank that accepts the loss. That is why the bank takes a pro-active approach in stopping this type of theft.
The block was put into effect last week and will likely stay in effect for a few more days. Even after the block is lifted, Cannon recommended customers always use PIN numbers when making transactions with a debit card at those types of stores because it is more secure.