Local News

SECU probes fraud cases after security breach

Posted January 28, 2009 6:14 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2009 8:37 p.m. EST

— Officials with the State Employees Credit Union are investigating 40 cases of fraud in the wake of a security breach at a company that processes credit card payments nationwide.

Criminals installed spying software on the computer system of Heartland Payment Systems, a national Visa processor for over 250,000 merchants that include hotels, restaurants and retailers. The company said recently it had closed the hole in its security system.

SECU receives card transactions through Visa, which receives the transactions from Heartland. The credit union has issued new credit cards and personal identification numbers to its 62,000 cardholders as a precaution.

"We want to take what will be the most costly approach but the most proactive approach and close those cards as quickly as we can," said Leanne Phelps, SECU senior vice president.

The fixes came too late for Fred Yancey, who recently found that his SECU checking account has been drained through an unauthorized transaction.

"(My balance was $19.09. That told me some activity that happened," Yancey said.

The $547.50 transaction was from Points.com, a Web site for redeeming rewards points from airlines and retailers.

"I had no idea what it was," he said, adding that he immediately called to cancel his card and fill out a fraud report.

Phelps said Yancey's situation is one of dozens of cases of suspected fraud that are under review. The SECU will credit his account for the missing money, she said.

Financial institutions aren't required to notify customers about the Heartland breach, she said, but the SECU chose to do so to alert their customers about the potential for fraud.

Yancey said he was thankful for the notice, noting that it prompted him to check his account and catch the discrepancy quickly. He suggested other SECU members check their account balances.

"Check your account daily. Know what's supposed to be there. If it doesn't look right, don't hesitate to call," he said.