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City Admits Security Guarding Citi Bike Users' Information Was Breached

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Citi Bike users – many of them already frustrated by other problems with the program – have now learned that their personal information has been compromised.

As CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez reported Tuesday, the program is already wildly unpopular with many cyclists who have been stuck left waiting for a ride. But Link Salas was also wondering if someone took him for a ride, after he and 1,173 other cyclists received an alarming e-mail from Citi Bike.

"There is a security breach that has been solved. Thank you for your understanding. Your security is safe," the e-mail said.

Salas said the Citi Bike letter said all the personal information he used to sign up for the program online – including his credit card number, security code and expiration date – was potentially compromised and made public on the Citi Bike website because of a programming problem.

"It doesn't exactly fill me with great confidence," said Citi Bike user Dan Sershen. "But, generally, at the same time, I think credit card companies are pretty used to dealing with fraud and things like that."

The city Department of Transportation confirmed the breach, saying, "While there is no evidence that any personal information was maliciously accessed or misused, NYC Bike Share engaged a security firm to investigate and recommend appropriate steps to make notifications and safeguard its customers."

Citi Bike stated in a letter to affected users that the programming glitch happened back in April. Yet members who spoke to CBS 2 said they were not notified about the problem until this month.

CBS 2 questioned Citi Bike officials, but they did not explain the delay.

"Obviously, you want to know if something went wrong with your account. You want to know as soon as possible," said Hans De Groot of the West Side. "But if this organization holds these people harmless, then obviously transparency is important."

Citi Bike told its members the programming issue was immediately corrected, so most riders said they will keep on pedaling.

The Department of Transportation said the breach affected 1,174 of the approximately 16,000 Citi Bike members registered before the program launched in May. Citi Bike has since served about 180,000 customers.

The city and others have touted the largest in the nation bike share program for promoting a healthier lifestyle and for adding another way to get around the city.

But complaints have mounted from the beginning.

Last month, CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported many members getting frustrated due to persistent problems.

At a bike sharing station at Union Square, no one could take bikes out or put them back in that day, and the computer screen to operate the bike share station was dead. Yet, the Citi Bike app was indicating absolutely no problems.

In that case, the batteries at the station were dead. Citi Bike worker Juseg Reynoso said he'd had to fix the station multiple times.

Also, some lawsuits were filed before the first bike even hit the road. Some residents, drivers and street vendors also voiced their opposition to the program.

Some of the hundreds of docking stations were relocated late last month after tenants complained.

There are about 6,000 Citi Bikes docked at hundreds of stations in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in parts of Brooklyn.

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