After Losing Feds Charge Card Data, Bank Gives Security Tips To Potential Victims

Bank urges potential victims to be vigilant in protecting their financial and personal information

The bank that has lost charge card account information for 1.2 million federal workers is urging federal workers possibly affected to be vigilant in protecting their financial and personal information.

As has been widely reported, a number of computer backup tapes containing government charge card account information for about 1.2 million federal workers went missing in late December. The information lost included names, Social Security numbers, addresses and account numbers, though ban officials indicated they had “no evidence to suggest that the tapes or their content have been accessed or misused.”

Bank of America recently sent letters to potential victims notifying them of the lost tapes and reiterating that they will continue to monitor cardholder accounts. Pentagon officials indicated Monday that about 900,000 Department of Defense employees could be affected by Bank of America’s loss and the possible compromise of government travel card information.

The letter, which ironically began with the statement “At Bank of America, our first priority is our customers and the security of their financial information,” stated that officials would contact victims should they detect any unusual activity.

“Please be assured that should we detect any activity we deem to be unauthorized or unusual, you will be notified. You will not be liable for any unauthorized use of your card,” the letter stated.

The bank, a contractor with the General Services Administration’s SmartPay program, has also set up a special toll-free number, 800-493-8444 for those federal employees with questions or concerns.

Included in the letter were the bank’s tips for customers on how to best secure their financial information. Tips included:

– Be discriminating when providing personal information such as Social Security number and account or credit card information over the telephone, in person or on the Internet.

– Protect your Social Security number, as well as the Social Security numbers of family members by not carrying them in your wallet

– Report lost or stolen checks, credit or debit cards immediately

– Notify your banker of suspicious phone inquiries – such as those asking for account information to “verify a statement” or “award a prize”

– Memorize your PIN and refrain from writing it, your Social Security number or credit card number on a check

– Tear up or shred any pre-approved credit offers to which you do not respond

– Review your monthly account statements thoroughly

– Beware of fraudulent email messages that ask for account information to “reactivate or verify” your accounts.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47