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UI credit union sees one of its biggest fraud cases in years

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | APRIL 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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A national data breach has led University of Iowa Community Credit Card Union officials to recall 200 cards from account-holders.

Atlanta payment-processing company Global Payments Inc. released a statement April 1 regarding unauthorized access noticed in March to around 1.5 million cards in its processing system. These numbers include approximately 200 potentially fraudulent Mastercard and Visa cards used at the credit union.

Credit union credit-card manager Chris Carlson said patrons should continue to keep a close eye on their bank statements.

"The biggest thing for students and all consumers to understand is to pay attention to your account and to read your statements," he said. "It's a good idea to carefully look through your statement and make sure that the vendors are places that you go to frequently."

This case marks one of the largest fraud concerns at the credit union since 2008, when a similar breach in the Heartland payment systems — the sixth-largest payment processor in the country — caused the credit union to recall cards.

Carlson said banks do typically see a few minor fraud cases every year that can be easily contained.

The credit union has replaced the 200 potentially fraudulent cards from this year's case. Carlson said he doesn't expect additional credit-union cards to be compromised, but he cannot make any guarantees.

"We get those lists from Visa and Mastercard with little notice," he said. "We haven't had a list for a week and a half, so I assume that we've seen all that we need to see, but I wouldn't promise that's it."

In the statement, Global Payments said the fraud was confined to North America and did not involve stolen personal information such as addresses and Social Security numbers.

"We are making rapid progress toward bringing this issue to a close," Global Payments Chairman and CEO Paul R. Garcia said in the statement. "We are open for business and continue to process transactions for all of the card brands."

Sandra Chu, global corporate relations specialist for Visa, said the company has not experienced any system breach following the break into Global Payments' system.

"Visa Inc. is aware of the announcement from Global Payments Inc. that it experience unauthorized access into a portion of its processing system," Chu wrote in an email. "There has been no breach of Visa systems."

UI students expressed concern over the breach even though the fraud has likely been contained.

"I think it's pretty surprising [that it happened,]" said UI freshman Shannon Wallace. "I have a card that's from credit union, and it's kind of disconcerting, and I hope that they would do something to prevent it in the future."

Wallace said she would consider closing her credit-union account if it was the largest of her bank accounts.

"If I were to have more money in that account, I might reconsider which bank I was putting my money under," she said.

Though UI senior Francesca Geib's credit-union account never went under alert, the fraud still put her on the lookout.

"If they're figuring it out, I'm not worried, but it does make me want to keep my eye out and make sure it doesn't happen," she said.


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