Third Party Payment Handler’s System Breached – How Safe Are We?
The credit card industry was stunned last week by news that data from as many as 10 million credit cards had been misappropriated by cyber thugs. Visa and MasterCard rushed to allay the fears of the potential 1.5 million clients whose personal information might have been penetrated.
Global Payments which was the handler whose system was infiltrated said, “The investigation to date has revealed that Track Two card data may have been stolen, but that cardholders’ names, addresses and social security numbers were not obtained by the criminals. The company went on to say that, based on forensic information not revealed to the public they believe the problem has been contained.
According to some analysts the perpetrators of this fraud have been amassing the information over months before using it, and then only cautiously at first. After ascertaining a cardholder’s information the thief will use the “card” initially for small purchases to verify whether the cardholder is monitoring his account. If this is not indicated, the offender will then boldly use the information on a grander and grander scale.
In the interim, both Visa and MasterCard have launched investigations of their own, all the while emphasizing the fact that their systems have not been infiltrated. The information being divulged by the Visa/MasterCard contingent is different from what is being said by Global Payments about the breach. This disinformation gives rise to some very disconcerting questions like: Who did what to whom and for how long has this been going on? Or: How safe are we and our personal information in this cyber world, with malevolent technology waiting to invade our privacy? If these are questions that are nagging at you, here are some steps you can take to avoid or minimize damage from hacking:
Be Extra Cautious
Hackers can extract pertinent personal information from an invaded site and send e-mails to targeted persons in an effort to obtain passwords and account #’s, a process known as “spear phishing”. Do NOT reply to any e-mail supposedly from a financial institution requiring information about the account as this is a scam. Your bank or Credit Card Company would never ask you for this in an e-mail.
Review Statements Closely
Scammers may begin small to verify your vigilance. If you don’t recognize a charge, no matter how small, alert your credit card company and they will investigate the payment. In most instances they will reverse the charge and also issue a new account number upon request.
Monitor Your Credit Report
The three national credit card reporting companies are required to provide consumers with one free credit report each year upon request. Take advantage of this @ www.annualcreditreport.com !
Update Software and Browsers
Protect yourself from online fraud and identity theft with browser security software on your computers and mobile devices. If you already have anti-virus software, make sure to update it.