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- 2013 - December - 31st -

Credit unions issuing new cards to Target customers

By Kevin Hogencamp, Contributing Writer

Jacksonville-area credit union members whose personal information was compromised recently at Target retail stores are automatically being issued new credit cards and debit cards to protect their accounts.

Judy Walz, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions' Northeast Florida chapter president, said Monday the chapter's 23 credit unions are paying for the costs of issuing new cards and numbers to more than 58,000 members.

Jacksonville-area credit unions have about 700,000 members, said Walz, who also is VyStar's senior vice president of marketing.

"What we are telling members to do is, 'Keep using your card, keep monitoring it, and we will send you a new card," Walz said. "And as soon as you activate your new card, your old card will be deactivated.'"

Target customers who used bank- and credit union-issued credit and debit cards Nov. 27-Dec. 15 had personal information stolen in one of the largest cyber attacks in U.S. retail history. Officials with Target, the country's third-largest retailer, say encrypted personal identification numbers for debit cards were stolen.

Walz said Monday that Jacksonville-area credit unions have begun reaching out to each of its members who used a credit or debit card during the data breach period.

Representatives of Bank of America and Wells Fargo said Monday their financial institutions are not automatically issuing new cards to customers. Instead, those banks are relying on their fraud-monitoring practices to detect improper card use.

Roger Rassman, vice president of marketing at Community First Credit Union of Florida, said more than 10,000 of the institution's 107,000 members will receive new cards over the next week.

While Rassman said a small number of Community First members have been victimized as a result of the Target security breach, Walz said she is not aware of any thefts "that can be directly attributed to Target."

Walz said that in addition to contacting affected members and reissuing cards, Northeast Florida credit unions also have increased security and monitoring efforts.

Meanwhile, Rassman recommends that credit and debit cardholders utilize mobile technology to monitor accounts, and sign up for a free service through which they are notified when their cards are used.

"Be extra vigilant and watch your accounts, and if you see something (out of line), call right away," he said.

Spokesman for Bank of America and Wells Fargo also said customers should continually monitor their accounts and immediately report potential problems.

"If customers suspect that their card or card number may have been used without their authorization, or if they are notified by Target that their information has been compromised, they should contact Wells Fargo immediately, using our toll-free numbers, which are available anytime day or night," said Wells Fargo spokeswoman Kris Dahl. "The sooner we are contacted, the faster we can act to prevent any fraud or loss."

The data breach is prompting credit union leaders nationwide to call on lawmakers and the public to support replacing magnetic stripes that are universally used in the United States with newer, more secure technology.

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