In the largest reported security breach of personal financial information, hackers infiltrated the computers at a Tucscon credit card processing center and stole as many as 40 million card numbers, it was disclosed Friday.
MasterCard International said card numbers and expiration dates were harvested by a rogue program planted inside the computer network at CardSystems Inc., one of the firms that process merchant requests for credit-card authorization. When a retailer swipes a customer's card, the information goes to companies like CardSystems for approval before getting passed along to banks.
At least 68,000 accounts have already had fraudulent charges posted to them, said MasterCard Vice President Linda Locke. Most credit card companies reverse bogus charges that are reported to them. Social Security numbers and other personal information were not taken.
The attack exposed the numbers of 13.9 million MasterCards and an unknown number of other brands of cards, including American Express. Atlanta-based CardSystems processes $15 billion in charges annually for MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover and other cards. Visa did not return a call seeking comment.
Keep a close eye on your credit statements - check them online daily for the next week or so, if you can. Be very prepared to report bogus purchases if they show up.
Is it just me, or has there been a lot of identity theft and loss/improper transmission of personal information in the news lately? The Berkeley laptop, the lost Citibank tapes, the data swiped from LexisNexis... it's getting out of hand. I guess the real question is, has there been an uptick in identity theft, or are the stories just making it out to the news more frequently?