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WaMu Gave Grandma's Money to Crooks

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New York Times Reporting on ICT

The article appeared on May 21, 2007.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Compromised Wamu Debit Cards?
I was telling a friend of mine about my grandmother's experience this past weekend and she told me she had her own greivances to air about Wamu. Recently she was used her debit card at an ATM, but at the end of the transaction, the machine didn't return her card. She phoned customer support and was told a new one was already on its way. Shortly thereafter she received a new one in the mail, but the label had switched from Visa to Mastercard.

I told her it sounded fishy -- like Wamu had had an issue with the security on their Visa debit cards. One so serious, in fact, that they programmed their ATMs to issue an immediate recall on all cards so that, without any warning to their customers, ATM machines started swallowing the ATM cards.

This hypothesis receives some confirmation from a reader of this blog who contacted me to write that her Wamu account had been defrauded 3 times by a person or people using her debit card number. After her first two reports, she was issued a new card but within 30 days her account was hit again. The fraud stopped after she was issued another new card -- which she noted, after I shared with her my friend's tale -- had indeed switch from the Visa to the Mastercard label.

I only have an ATM card so this didn't affect me, but it appears Wamu didn't offer any notice about this to any of their debit card holders in any case.

Want more fear and dread about your personal security? Listen to this morning's interview with ChoicePoint marketing officer, James Lee, on NPR. What bullshit. The piece is titled "There Are Good Uses of Information, and Bad" on the NPR website, but, from the individual consumer's point-of-view, I have a hard time seeing the good the will come from a private corporation selling your personal information.

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