OCEAN CITY — Authorities are advising residents and visitors this week to carefully monitor their credit and debit card accounts after a recent cyber attack that compromised the security of numerous processing companies nationwide, including several in the resort area.
According to Ocean City Police, an out-of-state credit card processing company had their systems compromised with a virus that was passed on to various businesses in the resort area and their point-of-sale (POS) systems. The processing company contracts with 49 business locations in Ocean City, six of which are known to have been compromised. According to the OCPD, most of the compromised locations are restaurants and bars.
The virus affected the six business POS systems from June 2 to July 9. The virus essentially copied information from credit and debit cards used at the locations during the time frame and transmitted the information to the scammer. According to Ocean City Police, the local scam is related to a much larger similar scam going on nationwide. The U.S. Secret Service is currently investigating the breach.
Meanwhile, the Calvin B. Taylor Bank issued a warning to its debit card account holders late last week advising them of the ongoing virus and associated scam.
“On Wednesday, July 23, Taylor Bank received an alert from Visa regard Taylor Bank-issued Visa debit card accounts that may have been compromised,” the notice to bank customers reads. “Please be advised that the compromised was not caused by a data security breach at Taylor Bank or our systems.”
Taylor Bank officials said in the notice they monitor situations like this closely, take them seriously and work diligently to help customers protect themselves. Actions taken by the bank include, but are not limited to, placing restrictions on certain types of purchases inside or outside the bank’s trade area, limiting dollar amounts of transactions or immediately closing the cardholder accounts. The latter occurred late last week when Taylor Bank was forced to close some cardholder accounts immediately. In every case, the cardholder was notified in advance of the closure, according to bank officials.
Taylor Bank officials advised their cardholders to help them prevent scams and frauds by reviewing account activity often, safeguarding their information when making purchases online or over the phone and looking for skimming devices on ATMs, gas pumps or other electronic card reading devices they might use.
The Bank of Ocean City also posted a “Security Advisory-Debit Card Fraud” on its website this week. It read, “Due to an increase in nationwide Debit Card Fraud, Bank of Ocean City has added new security measures to its Real Time Monitoring Software.”
As a result of the new implementation, Bank of Ocean City advised customers of steps to take if a transaction was denied that was legitimate.
“These new security measures may occasionally result in a transaction denial. If so, please try your transaction again as a debit purchase using your PIN,” the message read.
For its part, the Bank of Delmarva has alerted debit card holders of a “potential phishing scam” through telephone calls.
“An automated telephone message is being delivered to area residents stating that their debit card has been temporarily disabled, deactivated or expired. This message is fraudulent,” the “special alert” message reads. “The Bank of Delmarva would never solicit debit card information through an automated telephone message.”
In addition, the OCPD is strongly advising residents and visitors to check their bank statements to ensure they have not been a victim of the cyber-crime scam. Any citizen who believes their information may have been compromised should contact their bank or credit card issuer immediately.
In another situation that may or may not be related, a local resident advised The Dispatch this week there is a possible credit card cloning scam being promulgated on Ocean City residents. It has reportedly happened two times in the last few weeks. In the scam, an ATM or other card-reading device copies information from a used credit or debit card and physically transplants the information onto a new card.
The cloned cards have reportedly been used in Chicago, California, Las Vegas and other locations. The victims believe they have narrowed down the possible compromised card-reading device where three victims have used their cards. While the OCPD has information on the overall cyber-crime scam, the department did not have information on the alleged card cloning scam going on at the same time.