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PNC cancels 16,000 cards after hacking theft incident

Thursday, February 20, 2003

By Patricia Sabatini, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

PNC Bank said yesterday it was forced to deactivate some 16,000 ATM/debit/check cards that carry the Visa logo after being notified by Visa that the cards were compromised by a computer hacker.

The bank said it didn't know how many customers in Pittsburgh may have been affected. PNC has roughly 3 million customers who have ATM cards tied to the Visa brand, spokesman Pat McMahon said.

PNC, Pittsburgh's and the state's largest bank, canceled the 16,000 cards yesterday and immediately began notifying affected customers by telephone, McMahon said. The bank is in the process of reissuing the cards.

Customers wondering if their cards have been canceled can visit a branch, send an e-mail or call PNC's 24-hour customer service number to find out, McMahon said. The toll-free number is 1-888-PNCBANK.

The computer hacker stole some 8 million Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover account numbers nationwide this month from an outside payment processor, which the card companies have declined to identify.

Both Visa and MasterCard have said that all card-issuing financial institutions affected by the problem had been notified, but wouldn't say how many had been hit.

PNC's McMahon said there had been no reports of fraudulent transactions, but urged customers who notice suspicious activity to notify the bank.

On Friday, Rhode Island-based Citizens Bank canceled between 8,000 and 10,000 customers' cards with the MasterCard logo after receiving word of the security breach from MasterCard's fraud unit.

Roughly 2,500 Citizens customers in Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware were affected, Citizens said.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express all have "zero-liability" policies protecting customers from fraudulent uses of their credit cards.

Investigations are under way, the card companies said.

Patricia Sabatini can be reached at psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.

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