Boise victim of Target credit card breach hit with double whammy

Her replacement card is stolen, leaving the Boise woman beside herself.

jsowell@idahostatesman.comJanuary 26, 2014 

Julie Mai stands near a group of mailboxes that contains hers, from which her replacement card was taken before she even knew her bank had sent it.

KYLE GREEN — kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Julie Mai received an unpleasant surprise Thursday evening when a text message notified her that her checking account was overdrawn.

She hadn’t written any checks or used her debit card that day, so she couldn’t figure out where more than $300 had gone.

But it was, indeed, gone.

Mai’s bank had mailed her a replacement debit card because her information had been compromised in the data theft last month at Target Corp. that affected as many as 110 million shoppers nationwide. But Mai never received it.

Instead, someone else activated the card Thursday by phone using only the card number and Mai’s ZIP code, she said.

All of the purchases on Mai’s card were made in Boise: $210 worth of clothing at Plato’s Closet, $155 at Michael’s craft store, $63 worth of gas at Stinker in two transactions, and $12 for lunch at Arby’s.

“It must have been a young woman,” Mai said. “Not a lot of dudes go to a craft store or shop at Plato’s Closet.”

Despite her anger, Mai couldn’t help but laugh at one other purchase.

“The ironic part was that they went to Target and bought $65 worth of merchandise,” she said.

Mai reported the theft to the Boise Police Department and hopes that officers will be able to identify who stole her card by viewing store security tapes.

All such thefts should be reported, Boise police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said.

“It wasn’t any gigantic amount, but it was mine,” said Mai, whose bank, Chase, covered the loss.

JPMorgan Chase replaced 2 million of its 23 million debit cards due to the Target breach, according to The New York Times. Citibank announced last week that it would do the same.

Though credit card users have broad protections, debit card users can be responsible for up to $500 if they don’t report fraudulent use promptly. They also lose use of their account money and might have to wait for their bank to issue a refund.

It could take until 2015 before credit card issuers are able to roll out new chip-enabled cards that require a PIN even for credit purchases. That system is standard in Europe and Asia but will cost millions of dollars in the United States because of upgrades to store terminals and ATMs.

One of Mai’s neighbors, Steve O’Brien, said he abandoned his mailbox a decade ago after a check was stolen.

“We’ve been paying the post office (for a box) ever since,” he said.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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