Local financial institutions respond to the Target data breach

Staff writerJanuary 13, 2014 

The Target store in Lacey is pictured.

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer file, 2012 Buy Photo

Financial institutions in the South Sound have been quick to respond to the card hacking at Target, advising customers of the situation and recommending steps they can take to minimize any impact to their accounts or their credit ratings.

At Tacoma-based Columbia Bank, spokeswoman JoAnne Coy said the card services department sends regular updates to branches and has offered a “customer service Q&A” to assist staff in addressing concerns from clients.

“We are continuing to assure our customers that Columbia Bank is monitoring accounts for fraudulent activity and customers will be alerted regarding authorizations or transactions outside their normal purchase pattern,” Coy said Monday. 

Columbia has chosen not to initiate a mass-reissue because, in doing so, customers’purchase-pattern records would be reset, thereby taking data away from the very monitoring programs that help identify fraud.

Where Columbia did not recommend cancelling credit or debit cards, BECU will issue new cards to all customers -  86,000 of them – who might have been affected by the Target debacle.

“The fraud has been small, not alarming,” said BECU spokesman Todd Pietzsch on Monday. “We are reissuing cards to all of our members that were impacted. Notifications have gone to everyone that new cards are on the way.”

He recommends to members, “Always be on your guard. If you’re worried, go to the website from your bank or credit union, or call the customer service number.”

KeyBank is likewise re-issuing credit and debit cards that might have been affected by the Target data breach. 

Brian Vance, CEO of Heritage Bank, has taken a middle course.

“We put out an alert to all of our customers,” he said. “We told them to be careful, and if they see any suspicious activity to contact us. We did not make a decision to mass-reissue cards, but if a customer has concerns, we will reissue. We have not had any known fraud at Heritage.”

At Oregon-based Umpqua Bank, spokeswoman Eve Callahan said, “We’re always monitoring accounts. If we catch something that looks suspicious, we’ll reach out to a customer.”

So far, she said, “we haven’t seen a lot in the way of suspicious activity. We drafted a letter and sent it to those who may have been at risk. We’re also recommending that clients create alerts that let them know when certain thresholds have happened. We do recommend that people keep aware of what’s happening with their account.”

She warns that some criminals will take advantage of the Target situation and try to confuse cardholders. She advise that Umpqua would never ask for personal information over the phone, and that no one should ever give personal information out except to a trusted, verified source.

Meanwhile, the Department of Financial Institutions continues to guard the financial resources of people in the state. The agency offers information on its website, www.dfi.wa.gov, and employees are trained to deal with the concerns worried cardholders might have.

 

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