SBI Blocks half a million debit cards after suspicious transaction

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The State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest bank blocked over 6.25 lakh Debit cards of their customers after a suspicious transaction spiked at third-party ATM machines.

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Cardholders were unaware of their card being blocked as no prior notice was given by the bank.

The bank subsequently sent emails and SMSes to customers, alerting them to the blockage, and asked them to re-apply for new cards at their respective branches.

Chief Technology Officer, Mr. Shiv Kumar Bhasin said, “About 0.25% of our cards have been blocked. We came to know that some of our customers have used them at some virus-infected ATMs. These were white label ATMs operated by Hitachi payment services”.

The State Bank of India branch manager in Mumbai said, “In the past 3-4 days, we saw some unidentified and suspicious transactions at some ATMs and hence the cards were blocked immediately. The cards have been blocked across many circles”.

SBI card holders are not the only victim of this ATM scam.

SBI general manager said, “The damage has been done to many other bank debit cards, including foreign and private banks. This happened a month ago and we saw some data of customers being compromised. With such large number of cards involved, we thought it was better to replace the cards entirely. Largely the cards were magnetic-based”.

As Precautionary measures, banks are periodically reminding customers to change their debit card pin or password on regular basis. They have also asked customers to not to share the password with anyone.

The Reserve Bank of India has asked all banks to upgrade their debit cards into chip-based EMV cards, which have added layers of security. In a chip-based card, information is not validated by bank servers unless the correct PIN is used, whereas information on a magnetic strip is easily accessible.

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