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Global Payments Credit Card Data Compromised

By K&S on May 14th, 2012 | No Comments

Posted in: Credit Card Debt

Although this blog is usually dedicated to educating consumers about credit and collection scams and educating them on how to stop collection calls, today there is a different, but no less important, type of credit news that needs to be brought to the attention of readers.

Credit and debit card data from the major card brands has potentially been compromised due to a data breach at a payments processing company, reports CNN Money. “Card data may have been accessed,” said Global Payments (GPN), the card processor in question. The company first publicly acknowledged the unauthorized intrusion in early March.

However, prominent blog Kreps on Security says that the incident took place long before then. Kreps reports that the break-in “dates back to at least early June 2011.”

Global could not or would not initially reveal the number of accounts that were compromised, but eventually reported that it was less than 1.5 million. Kreps claims that it is still “unclear” whether or not that figure represents the maximum number of cards affected. The blog had earlier stated that as many as 10 million cards could potentially have been compromised.

Global still has not made precisely what data was taken during the intrusion. It also has not gone public with the names of credit card companies that were involved in the incident. Visa, however, was more forthcoming.

“Visa Inc. is aware of a potential data compromise incident at a third party entity affecting card account information from all major card brands,” it said in a prepared statement. CNN has confirmed that Sandra Chu, a spokeswoman for the credit card titan, had confirmed to the news outlet that Visa had removed Global Payments from its list of preferred credit-card processors in the aftermath of the malicious break-in.

Visa said it alerted its card issuers and that they “can take steps to protect consumers through independent fraud monitoring and, if needed, reissuing cards,” it said.

MasterCard made a similar move, informing issuers of the breach and how it could have put some MasterCard accounts “potentially at risk.” Neither MasterCard nor Visa had their own networks illegally accessed.

When a customer runs a credit card through a payment terminal, that data is transmitted to a processor such as Global, which then forwards the info along to the appropriate card company. In the fiscal year ending May 31, 2011, Global Payments processed $167.3 billion worth of transactions. The processor focuses on handling transactions at small merchants. It confirmed that the breach was not the fault of any of those merchant partners.

A U.S. Secret Service representative says that the agency is currently investigating the security breach of credit card data at GPN.

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