Are you frustrated because your debit card information has been compromised? SO ARE WE!!!! Let me explain: Over the past few years, “fraudsters” have become increasingly creative when coming up with ways to steal your information.


We want to assure you that we have not been made aware of ANY data breaches which originated from Advantage!


The most common types of businesses where we have seen debit card information compromises have been restaurants, retailers and gas stations. The fraudsters use different means to steal the card information. Here are some examples:


At gas pumps and ATMs, fraudsters may install a “skimmer”. This is a very thin device which is installed on the card swiper which actually records the information off of your card when you swipe it. The information is then used to make a fraudulent card, then purchases are made with the transaction being routed to your account.


At restaurants and retailers, the criminals have become very adept at using technology to steal information. These types of establishments us point-of-sale (POS) devices to facilitate your payment. You swipe your card, the system sends a message to your account to verify that you have enough money, if you do, the system sends back an authorization to approve the purchase. The data is then sent from the merchant to their card processor who handles the transaction and makes sure the merchant receives their money. Our experience has shown us just how complex the business of fraud has become. A restaurant was using the process described above. We had a sudden spike in abnormal debit card activity. Many purchases were occurring out of state and were coming through at exactly the same hour, minute and second. We monitored this activity and began to identify certain patterns including a common point of purchase for each of the compromised cards. When we found one, we did further research and blocked all of the cards that were used for transactions within certain timeframes. Even though most of these cards had not been used fraudulently, we had reason to believe that the information could have been stolen and would be used at a later time. We blocked the cards, contacted members and reissued cards. We worked with the restaurant owners, the Monroe County Sherriff’s Department, computer networking and security experts and other financial institutions to make changes in the security levels and structure of the internal networks at the restaurant.


The security experts found a virus on the internal network of the restaurant. The virus was collecting debit card data and transmitting it out to fraudsters. Sufficient steps were taken to correct the problem at that restaurant. Unfortunately, there are many more similar situations out there. We do our very best to monitor our systems, keep members informed and reissue cards as quickly as possible.


In an effort to share information about this type of activity, there is a local group of security personnel that meet monthly to discuss current issues. These meetings include representatives from credit unions, banks, retailers and law enforcement. Cooperation among local financial institutions has helped put pressure on law enforcement to make sure these problems, when identified, get corrected as quickly as possible.


We thank you for your continued support of Advantage. Please be sure to protect your account information and we will do everything we can to protect you as well.Debit Card TIPS and useful information:


  • Always call us if you plan on traveling outside of the area (other states or countries). This lets us know that that those transactions being done while you are traveling are yours.
  • If you are traveling, it is ALWAYS a good idea to have a back-up card. A credit card is usually your best option, however we could issue a second debit card (with a different number) which you could use should you encounter a problem with your primary card.
  • Understanding debit card authorizations is somewhat confusing and can be very frustrating. When you swipe your card to make a purchase, the merchant is checking to make sure you have enough money in your account to cover the amount of the transaction. Once the system verifies there is enough money, it will place a “hold” on your account for the amount of the purchase. In theory, the hold should be released when the money is actually withdrawn from your account. This is sometimes immediate, but it could take 3 or 4 days for some merchants to debit your account. There are instances where the amount authorized does not match the exact amount of the transaction and the hold remains in place EVEN AFTER YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN DEBITED BY THE MERCHANT. This has been a long-standing and frustrating issue with electronic payment networks. This is not a common occurrence, but please understand that this may happen from time to time.
  • NEVER write your PIN (4 digit code) on your card. If your card is lost or stolen, anyone could empty your account at an ATM if they have your PIN.
  • If you are disputing any transactions regarding the use of your debit card, please contact us immediately. We have a team of people who monitor fraud and file disputes with merchants. The sooner you act, the sooner we can replace the disputed amount for you.
  • When you file a dispute, we make every effort to give you “provisional credit” for the disputed amount within the first 24 hours. The regulations state that we have 10 days before we need to give you this credit, but we want to make this process as painless as possible for you.
  • This is called provisional credit because it may be reversed if it is found that you are responsible for the transaction. You may have forgotten that you made the purchase, you may not recognize the description of the purchase (especially if it is an on-line purchase) or a joint account owner may have made the purchase and forgot to mention it to you. In these instances, the provisional credit would be reversed and the dispute would be closed.
  • If the transaction is found to be fraudulent, the provisional credit remains in your account and the dispute is closed.
  • If your debit card is lost, stolen or compromised, you can get a new card the same day. Stop by any Advantage branch and we can make a new debit card for you while you wait!
  • If you suspect your debit card is lost or stolen, you can call our main telephone number (454-5900) and dial 128. We have staff members who monitor this extension during non-business hours. They will review your account and, if appropriate, block your card and call you back to discuss your account in detail.
  • There are daily card limits in place for your protection. The daily limit for ATM transactions is $500. The daily limit for debit card transactions at one, or a combination of, merchants is $1,500. These limits apply even if your account balance exceeds these amounts.