BEWARE: A Citizens Bank Retailer’s System Hacked in RI ~ Account Info Stolen and Used for ATM Withdrawls

How Do You Protect Yourself From People Stealing Your ATM Information?
~ Account Info & Pins Stolen and Used to Take Your Money ~

photo credit: Martin Eian via photopin cc

So, I got a call from my bank yesterday (Citizens Bank) that my card had been “compromised.” They said my card was immediately cancelled and a new one was to be delivered via Fed Ex the next morning. They asked me to check my accounts, and right there in my checking was a withdrawl from an ATM machine in Boston for $500 that I did not take out. Ugh! This has never happened to be before. What should I do? Would I lose this money? How did it happen? Was it my fault?
I happened to be in Boston this past weekend for a blogging conference called Springboard. It was a great conference and almost everything was included so I rarely used my debit card. In fact, the only time I did use it was in a taxi. I talked to the people at Citizens over the phone and they said that it could be likely the incident happened because sometimes taxi cabs are known for having cameras installed in the back to be able to see you typing in your code. They recommended that I cover my hand next time to prevent that from happening. Yikes! I would have never suspected that! Maybe I am just too trusting, but that freaked me out. They said people can even take movies of you at the gas pump or grocery store with their cell phones without you knowing it and get your pin number that way. Lesson learned that I will either use credit or cover my hand when entering my pin from now on! Scary!
Well, I was so mad about the taxi situation, but after going to the bank this morning to file my claim about the stolen $500 I learned more. Apparently it could have just be a coincidence that I was in Boston this weekend and this could have happened anyway. Still scary, but maybe it was not that “accused in my mind taxi driver” anymore. That makes me feel better and I hope it was not him. The bank said a retailer here was hacked and this situation has happened to multiple people at Citizens Bank. He said I was the 4th one in this morning to file a claim for the “Boston Incident” and that many people this happened to did not even go to Boston at all. Crazy! I don’t know the exact number, but they said this is a widespread issue they will be dealing with all weekend. 
Fed Ex dropped off my new card to my house as soon as I got home from the bank. The lady delivering the card told me she had over 20 new cards on her truck for people in my town alone. Scary!!!  When I asked the bank how this could happen (because in my mind someone would NEED my card to take from an ATM), they said they think someone hacked in, took account numbers and pins, and then they made fake cards to use at multiple ATM machines to take out money and then got rid of the fake cards. Wow! I guess at least this would not be my fault at all. 
Protecting Yourself ~ What I’ve Learned
In any case, I’ve learned a lot from the situation I’ve gone through today. 
1. This can happen to anyone.
2. Protect your card and pin.
3. Cover your hand when entering your pin number.
4. Possibly use credit instead when possible.
5. Be aware of your account and withdrawl transactions.
6. Check your surroundings ~ Cameras could be where you least expect them.

I want to thank Citizens Bank for taking quick action and cancelling my card and sending a new one within 24 hours. They knew before I did of the compromising of my account and worked fast to help me. They also assured me my identity was not compromised in any way, and I will get refunded my money in 10 days.     


  1. Scary. But so glad it wasn’t because you were nice enough to pay for our cab ride!

  2. This is really terrible. I am so old fashioned. I don’t use the ATM.

  3. That is so true that it can happen to ANYONE! My brother in law had a little over $600 taken out of his account!

  4. Whoa! I never thought about people getting your pin through film! That is scary! I am so glad you will get your money back, but that is CRAZY so many people in your town had it happen to them! Crazy and scary! thanks for some great tips!

  5. I have seriously lost my faith in people. Scary.

  6. Oh wow, that is NOT cool! We live in RI too, but I use Bank of America. That is so awful that this happened to you, I really hope they figure out exactly who is to blame for this terrible crime!

  7. Thanks for the tips. That is really scary!

  8. I never used an ATM but did use my card to pay Verizon online. Over 3 years nothing ever happened then I got an overdraft card. I had just put money in 2 days before so I called the bank. Over $3000 had been taken out of my account.
    I had to file a claim an get a police report they tracked it being used in 4 different states not even close to me. The detective found where stuff was ordered and the address was a vacant lot. Took nearly 4 months and alot of struggling just to get my bank account straighten out. People don’t care who they hurt nowadays it seems. Very scary. Glad your bank got things back in order for you.

  9. Glad it was resolved so quickly! What a pain though! Thanks for sharing your tips!

  10. I am so sorry Kristen. I am so glad they caught it quickly. Everyone could use this post to make them aware of what could happen!

  11. This totally made me rethink how I use my card. I don’t have a consistent method of using my card as either credit or debit so now I’ll definitely favor on the side of credit as much as possible!

  12. I still can’t believe how simply it can be for people to steal card information, so sorry this happened to you but it’s a great reminder to be careful.

  13. This is so scary. It makes me sad that we even have to worry about it.

  14. Something similar has happened to me. That is nuts about the cameras in taxis. I will definitely take your advice and be more careful in the future.

  15. Oh man, that is just horrible! I hope everything gets fixed and I will be more careful the next time I use the ATM!

  16. I never thought about the video thing. That’s just awful. Someone used my account not too long ago to purchase over $200 in Fandango tickets. It was very odd. I wonder if I was videotaped somewhere.

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  18. Wow this is horrible. I”m so glad you were able to catch this so soon. But wow, $500 is a LOT!

    We recently had our Debit card identity stolen too, down in Texas!? What the heck! We’ve never been to Texas and didn’t know anyone down there either! Thankfully our bank caught it early and we were able to cancel it all out and get that money refunded.

    I’m thankful for good banks too. I’m glad you have one!

  19. That is very scary, especially the taxi part! I got a call from my bank last year asking me to verify the strange purchase. One was for a hotel and another was a $30 transaction. I freaked out, but they called me before it was processed and because the $30 transaction was known for fraudulent activity. I am glad banks are aware and quick to act on their customers behalf.

  20. Yikes..thanks for the tips!

  21. How scary. You do everything you can to protect your info and then someone hacks into a bank and gets it anyway. Sheesh. I am glad you are getting a refund. Stinks that it takes 10 days, though.


  22. Sorry this happened to you! But thank you for posting about it, great reminder for everyone.

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