Schnucks urges card users to check accounts

News-DemocratApril 26, 2013 

Schnucks is urging customers who used their credit or debit cards at one its stores between December and March to check with their bank to make sure their identities are secure.

Some banks recommend that cardholders cancel their old cards and replace them with new cards because people still could have problems months from now.

The Maryland Heights, Mo.-based grocery store chain reported that approximately 2.4 million customers who used a credit or debit cards at 79 of its stores in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Indiana between Dec. 10 and March 29 may have had their accounts compromised. Of those, some have had hundreds of dollars and others thousands of dollars stolen.

Schnucks' investigation found that an unidentified culprit had attained customers' card numbers and expiration dates, but not their names, and used the information to steal money from their accounts.

"It's still possible to see fraud stemming from initial incidents," Schnucks spokeswoman Lori Willis said. "We blocked incidents from going forward as of March 30, and we're asking customers to go back and talk to their bank."

The Illinois Attorney General's Office has received about a dozen inquiries and complaints about theft linked to purchases made through card transactions at Schnucks stores. Spokesman Scott Mulford said most of those cases were unauthorized charges and in all cases consumers' accounts were refunded.

"As far as the ongoing situation, we always tell consumers when asked if they have concerns about their cards issued through a bank or whatever, they can always request a new card," Mulford said.

"If there is any concern whatsoever, it certainly can't hurt."

Bank of America has taken a proactive approach. Bank spokeswoman Betty Reiss said the bank has a system in place that can detect potentially suspicious charges and will immediately contact the client.

"It's a good thing customers monitor their accounts and have access to accounts online and monitor them online," Reiss said. "If they see any transaction that was unauthorized, they should notify the card issuer right away. We want to protect our customers."

Seven metro-east area Schnucks stores in Swansea, Fairview Heights, O'Fallon, Granite City, Alton, Bethalto and Waterloo have reported customers who had their accounts compromised between December and March.

Schnucks customers with further questions can also call a special hotline: 1-888-414-8022.

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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