Travel Card Info Lost, No Evidence of Fraud or Misuse
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2005 About 900,000 Defense Department employees may be affected by Bank of America's loss of government travel card information, Pentagon officials said today.
The General Services Administration and Bank of America notified DoD that GSA "SmartPay" travel cards are affected. Officials said Bank of America has been monitoring the affected accounts and there has been no evidence of fraud or misuse of the accounts.
Bank of America is sending letters to affected employees. "Information regarding travel card program accounts for individual card holders has been lost, and it is possible that that information has been compromised, though we don't believe that that is the case," said Teresa McKay, the Defense Department's deputy chief financial officer.
The U.S. Secret Service is conducting the investigation, with help from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Officials said that although there has been no evidence of criminal activity, release of details on the circumstances of the loss could jeopardize the investigation.
"Indications right now are that it is an accidental event," McKay said. "The bank has been monitoring the accounts involved from the onset, and to date there has been no indication of fraudulent activity."
The information is personal cardholder information -- names, Social Security numbers, addresses and account numbers on magnetic tape. The loss occurred in late December. GSA notified DoD on Jan. 19. McKay said the delay was necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation.
"The bank is in the process of notifying cardholders of the situation," McKay said. "They will be given a special customer service number that has been set up by the bank specifically for this purpose. If (cardholders) have any questions, they can contact the bank. If they would like, they may request that the bank cancel the card and reissue a card to them."
McKay added that consumers should always keep an eye on any credit accounts they have. "It's always prudent for any cardholder to monitor their monthly statements (and) dispute any charges they may question, and also it's important for all of us to get a credit report at least once a year and look at the content of that report," she said.
Bank of America has set up a hotline for those affected. The number is (800) 493-8444. Cardholders who notice irregularities in their accounts should call the Bank of America at the 800 number printed on the back of their cards, McKay said. "If you are an affected cardholder, you may contact Bank of America for information on obtaining a free credit report," she added.