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Breach hits more bank accounts

Fifth Third sends letters to Sterling, Savanna customers

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 2:26 p.m. CDT

STERLING – A computer security breach is affecting still more bank customers in the area.

Late last week, Fifth Third Bank joined other area financial institutions in informing Sterling customers that their ATM cards may be compromised. As with other banks, Fifth Third canceled the customers’ cards and issued new ones.

“Although your card may have been compromised from a merchant transaction, fraudulent transactions do not always result,” the bank said in a June 19 letter to customers.

Last month, Oregon and Mount Morris customers were among the first to receive word from their banks. The banks blamed the situation on a local merchant, but wouldn’t identify which one.

Since, banks have attributed the problem to a processor associated with the merchant.

Andrew Hayes, spokesman for Fifth Third Bank, said his bank sent letters to customers in Sterling and Savanna who had patronized a particular merchant.

Hayes said the merchant could well be different from the one in the Oregon-Mount Morris area, but they likely used the same processor. Often, smaller merchants tend to “bundle together,” sharing a processor, he said.

The recent situation, Hayes said, is fairly unusual.

For weeks, banks stated that federal authorities were investigating, but they wouldn’t identify which agency. Last week, though, the Secret Service, which handles bank and computer fraud cases, confirmed it was investigating the local situation. But an agency spokesman declined to give details.

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