Here we go again. This seems to have become a recurring event in our lives now; someone hacks a financial database, gets confidential credit card info, and then letters go out to customers about “an alert from Visa U.S.A. Inc. regarding compromised Visa account numbers.”

We got such a letter on February 13, 2009. You can read this two-year-old Computerworld blog, “Your credit card data may have been compromised. But don’t worry” to see that this threat is not new. Our cards were also among those compromised in 2007, and again last year. So it was no surprise that our current Visa cards would now expire March 13, 2009 and we were informed that we would receive new cards before then.

However, last Friday, my husband was surprised by a slight change of events in the changing of the cards process.

We had a day trip planned for Saturday, and my husband was going to get some cash from an ATM. Since we live in a rural area, going to an ATM can be a trip in itself sometimes. First he called our Credit Union (the closest branch for us is 20 miles away) to see which local ATMs we can use without incurring fees.

With that information, he went to a local Credit Union, inserted his Visa credit/debit card into the ATM, at which point the ATM kept his card and wouldn’t return it, nor would it allow any transactions. He went inside the Credit Union, and was told they couldn’t return the card since it was not issued by them and that he had to go to the issuing bank.

So, unable as yet to get any cash, he went back home and called our Credit Union. A representative explained that, due to so many customer complaints, the Credit Union had bumped up the date and disabled all the compromised cards on Thursday, February 19. So now we are without access to cash.

About a year ago, we ordered debit cards to use in case there was a lapse in receiving our new (non-compromised!) Visa cards. But we never had to use them, so we never activated them. My husband asked the representative if the debit cards were still valid, and was told yes, but we didn’t know the PINs to activate them. The representative said that if he came directly to the Credit Union office, they could help him activate the debit cards.

So he drove 20 miles to the Credit Union office and a teller told him that they couldn’t activate his debit card. Luckily the teller was overheard by another employee who directed him to a customer service representative who could activate the card. So he was finally able to get the ever elusive cash that had taken him all day to withdraw.

Which is the story I heard when I got home from work that evening.

And here’s the punchline:

He’s searching the Web for more info on the credit card issuer, and comes across one of our blogs, “Heartland Security Breach Could Have Been Prevented”, and says, “Well, look at this, it all comes full circle, if they had just been using Scrutinizer I’d have had none of this today!”

And just for the record, we got our new credit cards yesterday. So until the next security breach, we are good to go.

Joanne Ghidoni author pic

Joanne Ghidoni

Joanne is a Software Quality Assurance Engineer at Plixer. She has also held positions as Technical Support Engineer and Sales Engineer since joining Plixer in 2005. Prior to joining Plixer, Joanne has had numerous positions in the IT field, including data entry, computer operator, PC coordinator and support, mainframe programmer, and also Technical Support and web programmer at Cabletron Systems. In her spare time, Joanne enjoys traveling, always seeking out new and interesting places to visit.


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