Credit cards compromised

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scam artists in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas have compromised over 1,000 credit cards belonging to area residents.

According to Virgil Harrington, executive vice president at Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri, notification of compromised card holders was sent to Freedom Bank after the bank's credit card processing facility noted the unusual activity.

"At this time, the processing group feels it was a merchant or a group of merchants or a matter of fraud," Harrington said. "We were notified that a number of our card holders' information had been compromised, and we immediately took steps to protect our customers."

Harrington said that a merchant was retaining credit card information, including PIN numbers, which could lead to the possible manufacture and use of fraudulent cards.

"The activity was primarily taking place in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas," Harrington said.

Harrington said between 500 and 600 cards had been re-issued to Freedom Bank customers, and another banking facility had re-issued up to 700. He also reported that Arvest Bank in northwest Arkansas was the hardest hit, having to re-issue about 30,000 cards to its clients.

"We felt this was the safest avenue to take," Harrington said. "Generally, in this type of situation, someone hacks into the system and obtains the information and then sells it to another person or they use them."

The matter remains under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Arkansas Attorney General's Office.

"We hope with our security process, we have avoided most of the fraudulent activity," Harrington said.

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