Beware of credit-card hack affecting Chicago taxis, bank tells customers

An Illinois-based bank is urging customers to stop using credit and debit cards to pay for cab rides in Chicago until more details can be learned about a possible breach suspected of compromising the payment processor that local taxi companies use.

The warning, made Friday by First American Bank, comes amid the high-profile hack on the corporate network of Target that led to the compromise of credit card data for 40 million customers. Since then, several other large retailers have reported similar breaches or come under suspicion of being hacked. The reports are creating an environment of mistrust among payment card issuers, retailers, and consumers. In Friday's advisory First American Bank officials put it this way:

As you’re hearing more and more in the news about the theft of debit and credit card data, we at First American Bank wanted to let you know that we are doing everything we can to ensure our customers are protected and will go to great lengths to do so.

We are advising you not to use your First American Bank debit cards (or any other cards) in local taxis. We have become aware of a data breach that occurs when a card is used in Chicago taxis, including American United, Checker, Yellow, and Blue Diamond and others that utilize Taxi Affiliation Services and Dispatch Taxi to process card transactions.

We have reported the breach to MasterCard® and have kept them apprised of details as they’ve developed. We have also made repeated attempts to deal directly with Bank of America Merchant Services and Bank of America, the payment processors for the taxis, to discontinue payment processing for the companies suffering this compromise until its source is discovered and remediated. These companies have not shared information about their actions and appear to not have stopped the breach.

Since identifying the scheme, we have continuously monitored activity on our customers’ cards. Until the situation is rectified, we will continue to close and reissue cards that have been exposed. This interruption of card services has inconvenienced our customers while they wait for a new card. This can be particularly problematic for customers who are traveling. We believe strongly that the sanctity of our customer’s ability to access their funds without such risk of interruption is a bedrock principle in customer service, and we do so only in cases of extreme risk.

We have submitted a complaint to the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to get its help to stop the fraud, and have shared the information we have with the appropriate authorities. We ask that you not use your card in taxis until we can advise you that this criminal activity has been stopped.

As always, please monitor your account for any suspicious activity and report it right away to (847) 952-3700. Make sure we have your most current e-mail and phone numbers on file so that we can contact you immediately in the event of another breach. Thank you for choosing First American Bank. We appreciate your business.

According to an article published Monday by KrebsOnSecurity, bank officials issued the statement 18 days after learning of a pattern of fraud on cards previously used in Chicago taxis.

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