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Those who have a checking account at Community Bank soon will receive a debit card in the mail, officials said.

It’s the first time Community Bank has offered the card — called the Community Bank Visa Check Card — which can act as a credit card and automated teller machine card in addition to the debit feature.

“Anywhere Visa is accepted, their debit card will be accepted,” said Gregory Morgan, Community Bank Pacific theater manager.

When used in its debit function, the card performs like a check. When the debit option is selected during a transaction, money is subtracted directly from the customer’s checking account.

Since it’s not a credit card transaction, there is no loan involved and no interest to pay. But the card also can act as a Visa credit card if that option is selected on a point-of-purchase machine, according to Community Bank’s Web site.

Although debit cards have been available in the United States since the early 1990s, they were not available at Community Bank on overseas bases. But last year, the Defense Department negotiated a 10-year contract with Bank of America, which runs Community Bank around the world, Morgan said.

The new contract allows for features such as the debit card and online banking, scheduled to start later this summer, Morgan said.

The cards were mailed out in mid-May and should arrive soon, according to a letter sent to customers. Those who do not receive a card within the next few weeks should contact their local Community Bank branch. Customers’ personal identification numbers will remain the same as their current ATM cards or can be switched upon receipt of the card.

Some merchants may allow customers to get cash back from the purchase when using the card, according to Community Bank’s Web site.

The card can be activated at an ATM using the current PIN code or by performing a PIN-based transaction at a merchant terminal.

“Your regular monthly checking account statement provides you with a record of all your transactions,” the letter read.

According to the National Consumers League, two-thirds of American households now use debit cards.

Officials said more information on the Community Bank program can be found at www.dodcommunitybank.com.

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