Initial reports in late March indicated that approximately 10 million credit card numbers and other personal information from Visa and MasterCard were compromised after a Global Security database was hacked. However, Global Security recently assured customers the damage is actually far less massive than originally thought. Global Payments released a statement on April 1 saying that only North American credit cards were affected, and less than 1.5 million card numbers were stolen. Also, despite initial reports, the names of the cardholders, as well as their addresses and social security numbers were not seen by the hackers. The company expressed that the breach has been contained.. The Washington Post reported that the company plans to set up a website to help consumers whose credit card numbers may have been stolen to rectify fraudulent charges. However, MSNBC asserted, the track 2 data stolen from the databases did include credit card numbers and expiration dates, which is enough information to make fraudulent purchases and potentially create forged cards. The source explained that the criminals were able to access the data servers between January 21 and February 25. Gartner security veteran Avivah Litan writes that the hackers have already started making illegal purchases with the stolen information, and that investigators looking into the matter believe the hacking was based out of New York City, with the entry point being a taxi and parking garage company. The Gartner employee also acknowledged a rumor that the hackers were members of a Central American gang who broke into the business' system by correctly answering authentication questions. MasterCard and Visa defended their own computer security, assuring customers that their servers were not at the hub of this breach. The Washington Post reported that since March 30, when information about the hack was made public, Visa has ceased business with the third party data processing company. As with any identity theft scam, consumer credit reports
can often be the best indicator that personal information has been compromised. Because such a high volume of people have been affected, reporting agencies should be prepared to place fraud alerts or credit freezes on a number of reports. A consumer only needs to contact one of the three main agencies - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion - to place an alert on reports from each of the companies.