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PNC Bank replacing all credit cards used during Target breach

| Friday, March 21, 2014, 2:45 p.m.

PNC Bank said on Friday that it is replacing Visa credit cards for all customers who used them at a Target store during the period hackers breached the retailer's system and stole information for as many as 70 million accounts.

PNC began notifying customers in a letter this week that a new credit card will be delivered within seven to 10 business days. The bank said it is making the move as a precautionary measure and that it affects only those customers who used their credit cards card between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

“We are asking customers to activate the new cards, which will deactivate the old ones,” said bank spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel.

If customers don't activate the cards immediately, their old cards can be used until April 30, when they will be automatically deactivated.

The theft involved credit and debit cards. Target has said the hackers used malware to electronically steal names, card numbers, expiration dates, debit card PINs and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on the back of the cards.

Zwiebel said PNC is not disclosing how many replacement cards are being issued. The replacements do not include debit cards that were used during the breach. PNC's action is not the result of any recent increase in fraudulent activity, she said.

PNC is taking action now because “we continue to believe the majority of our customers were not affected by the breach at Target, but we decided to take this step to make sure our customers are as safe as possible,” Zwiebel said.

If a customer used a debit card at Target, she said, PNC will work with them to address any fraudulent activity.

“We did not feel at this time it was necessary to replace all of those,” Zwiebel said. “If a customer used a debit card at Target and did not see any suspicious activity, they should continue to use their debit card.”

Experts say reversing fraudulent credit card activity would require expensive upgrades, including the adoption of credit card technology that holds customer information on an embedded chip rather than a magnetic strip.

“We are researching all of our opportunities that technology provides, but we can't be any more specific at this time,” Zwiebel said.

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or joravecz@tribweb.com.

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