PNC Financial Services and federal law-enforcement officials are investigating a debit card breach involving an undisclosed number of National City Bank customers in the Cincinnati area, says Fred Solomon, a PNC spokesperson.

Executives of Pittsburgh-based PNC, which purchased Cincinnati-based National City in December 2008, became aware of the breach early last week when customers called PNC branches complaining about unauthorized charges on their Visa-branded National City debit cards, Solomon says. He declined to say how many cards were affected and the amount of charges applied to the cards.

PNC in February converted National City bank branches in the Cincinnati area to PNC branches, Solomon says. “We believe the breach occurred before we purchased National City, and we believe [the breach] occurred at a third party,” he says. Solomon declined to say if the debit card breach occurred at a processor.

PNC refunded funds to affected debit cardholders. The bank in February issued PNC debit cards to National City customers, who had a grace period to switch to PNC-branded debit cards, Solomon says. Since the breach, PNC has closed all National City debit cards.

The breach did not affect PNC debit cards, Solomon says.

The U.S. Secret Service is collecting information about the breach, PaymentsSource has learned.

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