Possibly compromised ATM cards have been recalled

Dear Editor,
Some time ago the new law of Guyana required that I confirm my banking particulars. On doing so earlier this year, the ATM card I had was deactivated, and a Republic Bank Visa One card was issued me in its stead. The transaction took place at the Robb and Camp Streets branch, and at the same time I enrolled in the utility payment plan through the ATM service. Four utilities were registered, but although on several occasions I attempted to access the service, this was in vain. There seems to be a problem with the system synchronising the card’s number for accessibility. I made two visits to the Camp Street branch about the service, but at the counter the card seemed to function properly.

I can recall an ATM deposit at the Camp Street branch that had a fault; ten thousand dollars were deposited, but the receipt given had one thousand dollars printed on it. On that occasion the system was having some glitches as other customers were encountering problems as well.

On June 8, 2011, I attempted to make a deposit at the Camp Street branch, and during the process my card got stuck in the machine. The receptionist helped me to retrieve it; however, the piece of paper tape which serves as a receipt was blank. I was assured, however, that the correct amount would be credited to my account. Later I received a letter acknowledging the deposit and manually crediting my account. Due to these incidents I placed some suggestions in the suggestion box at the Camp Street branch.

On several occasions the Texaco Mandela ATM was “temporarily out of order.” Sometimes customers would say their card was stuck in the machine, there were no funds available, or the machine was not responding to instructions. On one occasion a customer informed me that the machine had taken his card, and he would need to retrieve it from the head office. He further lamented that the ATM had done that to him before, and he had lost ten thousand dollars from his account. He left the cubicle. I entered and inserted my card; it was rejected, then the panel switched to the level for withdrawals. I called the man, but he did not come, so I withdrew two thousand dollars and showed him the money; he came and collected the money. On that transaction the machine released the card. Lately I visited that ATM and customers said the ATM had taken several cards.

At these ATMs there are security cameras, so the bank should be able to connect the photos of persons with the transactions performed.
On the hypothesis that some measure of hacking could be involved, the bank should review the incidents from all problem sources. Are there any internal activities? Are the cards defective? Are the machines genuinely malfunctioning? Did the Demerara Bank experience the same issues at the Mandela site? What of the other ATMs there? It would be very informative, should the bank release further updates on this concern. Customers who lost monies should be refunded by the bank.
Yours faithfully,
Charles Solomon

Editor’s note
We sent a copy of this letter to Ms Michelle Johnson, Marketing and Communications Manager of Republic Bank Ltd for any comment she might wish to make, and received the following response:

“Thank you for affording us the opportunity to comment on the letter you received from Mr Charles Solomon regarding various ATM concerns.
“Republic Bank recently became aware of suspicious activity at one of its ATM locations, prompting us to move immediately to initiate measures to safeguard our customers’ affairs.  

“Among our actions have been, the recall of possibly compromised cards and contacting those cardholders as a matter of urgency to advise of the situation and offer a replacement card, free of cost.

“Earlier this month, we had reason to contact Mr Solomon as part of this exercise and in a more recent discussion with him, we are satisfied that he suffered no loss while conducting transactions at our ATMs.

“Customer care and convenience remain our highest priority in this exercise as we continue our activities to protect all possibly affected customers.
“As always we continue to be grateful for the opportunity to comment on issues relating to Republic Bank.”

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