Banks alert customers of recent concerns with bank-issued cards

Published 2:00 pm Friday, September 20, 2013

Due to fraudulent debit card activity in recent days, Pike National Bank has issued an alert for banking customers in the area that places restrictions on debit card purchases. Nearly all purchases done with a PIN number will be allowed, however.

Pike National Bank President in McComb Jennifer Wallace, said that her bank made the decision to post an alert on their website and Facebook page in order to immediately let bank customers know what the situation was.

“This way our customers would be better equipped with information,” said Wallace.

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The bank is placing a block on all signature-based debit card transactions that are done without a PIN at a wide variety of businesses, including discount stores, department stores, grocery stores, pharmacies and variety stores. There will be a block on gas stations outside of Mississippi and Louisiana as well, according to the bank’s website.

Any transaction that is done without a PIN at the listed types of businesses will be declined, said a customer service representative from the bank.

While transactions using a PIN will be allowed at local businesses, the bank says they have lowered all debit card limits to a maximum of $500 per day. There will also be a limit of 10 transactions per day, according to the bank representative.

“We are actively working to overcome the problem, and once we feel it is safe, we will allow signature-based transactions again and remove other limitations. However, we are not sure of the time frame,” says the bank’s website.

Pike National Bank is not the only bank that is publicly alerting customers. On Tuesday, Trustmark bank mailed a precautionary letter to some customers advising them of concerns with bank-issued cards. “Mastercard International recently notified Trustmark that a computer system breach may have put some cardholder information at risk,” said the letter.

Like Pike, Trustmark is also issuing replacement debit cards with different card numbers. The bank suggests that customers “discontinue using and destroy your existing card, as all transaction activity on this card will be blocked within 10 days from the date of this letter.” The letter is dated Sept. 16.

Trustmark Director of Corporate Communications Melanie Morgan said Trustmark is only sending letters of alert to specific customers. “There might be a potential issue with a select number of cases. This is a cautionary measure,” said Morgan.

While the incidents of fraud are still under investigation at Pike, Wallace says that the bank is working with local and state law enforcement agencies on the matter.

“We have been very proactive. We continue to use fraud detection software that is able to pinpoint where this fraudulent activity might be occurring and then we are immediately able to put a block on the transaction,” said Vice President of Pike National Bank in McComb Diane Cothern.

It’s not clear when the alert will be taken down and things will go back to normal though.

“We’re hoping we’ll get things back to normal as soon as possible,” said Wallace.

In the meantime, the bank is taking steps to minimize the risk to current customers, said Cothern.

“We are doing everything possible, including talking to customers that might be unhappy or inconvenienced by these measures. We are letting people know the steps to take to be safe,” Cothern added.