STUTTGART, Germany — Staff Sgt. Robert Perez was sitting at his base in Afghanistan trying to order some DVDs online, but wasn’t cooperating.

“They told me my card wasn’t correct — ‘We are writing to let you know we are having difficulty processing your Visa,’” Perez said. “I tried again and couldn’t get it through. I knew I had plenty of funds in there.”

Dismayed, Perez called his Community Bank branch office in Schweinfurt, Germany, to ask what was up. He was told the bank had canceled his card and apparently hundreds of others to protect them from a security breach of the accounts.

Perez, a member of the Schweinfurt-based 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, said the employee at Community Bank in Schweinfurt told him “800-plus” customers in Germany had their cards invalidated.

“It happened Wednesday,” Perez said. “They said they would send me another card (to Afghanistan) … She said it was something they did to protect me so (people) would not use my credit card information.”

Stars and Stripes talked by phone to an employee of Schweinfurt’s Community Bank branch, who referred the newspaper to Community Bank’s Germany headquarters. Mark Beasley, a bank spokesman in Mainz-Kastel, referred questions to its San Antonio headquarters and Bank of America, which operates Community Bank.

Queries were then deferred to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Denver, which oversees the Defense Department’s contract with Bank of America. A DFAS spokesman in Denver, Steve Burghardt, said Thursday that he would check with DFAS headquarters in Washington before issuing a response to the newspaper.

Stars and Stripes had not received a response from DFAS as of Friday night, Central European Time, as to when the company found out about the breach and if it was reaching out to the violated customers to let them know their cards were no good.

A round of calls Friday to Community Bank offices in Germany revealed that most were aware of the situation. According to several Community Bank employees, an e-mail was sent to its branch offices listing the accounts that had been compromised.

One employee in Kaiserslautern was urging customers to check their account online to see if any unauthorized purchases had been made.

“They can come in (to the bank) or call and we can check our listings and see who has been compromised,” said Amy Rees, a customer service representative at Community Bank in Kaiserslautern. “And if they have any (unauthorized) transactions posted to their account, we want people to come in so we can file a claim form.”

For his part, Perez said he was disappointed to find out the hard way that his card had been canceled, adding that he was surprised to become a victim of card issues while on deployment.

“This would be the last thing I would be expecting out here," he said.

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