First American Bank warns of data breach involving Chicago taxis

First American Bank is advising its customers not to use its debit and credit cards in Chicago taxis.
February 28, 2014 8:26:44 PM PST
First American Bank is advising its customers not to use its debit and credit cards in Chicago taxis.

The Elk Grove Village-based bank says there's a pattern of fraudulent transactions after a card has been legitimately used to pay for taxi services. At least 11 cases of fraud have been reported.

The victims reported fraudulent charges on their accounts after using their debit cards to pay for taxi fares, and the problems may not be isolated to First American Bank customers.

The victims reported fraudulent charges on their accounts after using their debit cards to pay for taxi fares. And the problems may not be isolated to First American Bank customers. At the O'Hare Airport taxi line where many rely on credit or debit for long trips into the city, word of the data breach was unsettling.

"It's difficult to trust that your credit card is not going to get taken, especially with the square devices and things like that," said Ken Heller, taxi customer.

"I would not use a debit card, nothing with a pin number. Probably won't do that ever again," said Angela Nino, taxi customer.

In its complaint to the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Elk Grove Village-based First American Bank says at least 11 of its customers were the victims of fraudulent debit charges after using their debit cards in Chicago taxi cabs.

The bank has also canceled more than 220 other cards to prevent further fraud.

"We found a common point of compromise, and that common point of compromise was 'ChiTaxi,'" said Christine Childers, First American Bank.

That statement item, "ChiTaxi" is the payment code used for Yellow, Checker, Blue Diamond, and American United Taxi Companies, which are owned by Taxi Affiliation Services L.L.C.

First American Bank also names another cab group, Dispatch Taxi, in its complaint and says it's unlikely only First American customers are affected.

"I can't imagine that it's isolated to our debit cards because the breach isn't happening here. It's happening after the card is swiped in the payment process," said Childers.

This all comes on the heels of other high-profile data breaches of credit and debit information, including at Target and Neiman Marcus.

First American Bank says it's unclear how the breach is occurring. If it's a problem with the cab companies, or perhaps with their payment vendors, Bank of America Merchant Services and Mastercard.

For now, Childers said, their message to cab customers is: "Don't use your debit cards or your credit cards. Pay cash."

The bank says it first reported the issue to city cab regulators more than two weeks ago. A spokesperson for the city did not respond to our request for comment, and we also received no response from the taxi companies in question.