by Shawn Cumberbatch
An unknown number of Barbadians who own credit cards have been placed on fraud alert following a major security breach, which is believed to have caused sensitive information, including their card numbers, to fall into the wrong hands.
With banks in the region notifying their customers over the past few days of the problem involving Visa and MasterCard debt and credit cards,† investigations revealed that at least one bank here had already moved to cancel and replace customer credit cards, while another was promising to compensate customers financially if transactions were made without their knowledge or consent.
Additionally, senior industry sources said it was believed the problem originated in Barbados at “a third party service provider” with access to sensitive information, including credit card numbers, the names and addresses of the card holders and the expiry dates.
Barbados TODAY confirmed that FirstCaribbean International Bank was one of the affected financial institutions, which had already started to notify its credit card holders of the information breach in letters sent via mail. In the correspondence the bank told clients it was writing to advise them that a third party service provider had been affected by a security breach and that the problem “may potentially affect” them because their personal information had been accessed.
FirstCaribbean also said thus far it had found no instances of cards being compromised, and said not only had it enhanced monitoring but was prepared to compensate affected clients for money lost.
In light of the security issue, First Citizens Barbados (formerly Butterfield) has started to replace existing customer credit cards and other banks here are expected to do the same.
The Caribbean Association of Banks, the St. Lucia based organisation which represents banks here and in the Caribbean, also issued its own credit card alert yesterday.
“Banks and other financial institutions across the Caribbean have been impacted by a security breach at a financial institution in the region. This potential security breach can result in the compromise of a number of Visa and MasterCard branded debit and credit cards,” it said.
“Consequently, out of an abundance of caution, your bank or credit union may be contacting you to have your card replaced. Please note that these measures are precautionary because at this point no fraud has been attributed to this case.
“Our member banks and other financial institutions throughout the region take client confidentiality and security very seriously and provide assurance that customer interest remains soundly protected. Your understanding and patience are greatly appreciated,” it added.
Barbados TODAY understands that there are some credit card customers here who have not been affected by the recent breach and therefore there was unlikely to be a wholesale replacement of cards. [email protected]