June 17, 2005

It's Happened Again!

Another security breach involving credit card numbers:

Article here.

Security breach could affect 40 million credit card holders
New, 4:30 p.m. Compromised data includes names, banks and account numbers. Some call for stronger regulation of processing companies.
By The Associated Press

A security breach of customer information at a credit card transaction company could expose to fraud up to 40 million cardholders of multiple brands, MasterCard International Inc. said today.

The credit card giant said its security division detected multiple instances of fraud that tracked back to CardSystems Solutions Inc., which processes credit card and other payments for banks and merchants.

The compromised data included names, banks and account numbers -- not addresses or Social Security numbers, said MasterCard spokeswoman Sharon Gamsin. Such data could be used to steal funds but not identities.

It was the latest in a series of security breaches affecting valuable consumer data at major financial institutions and data brokers in an increasingly database-driven world.

The breach appears to be the largest yet involving financial data, said David Sobel, general counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

"The steady stream of these disclosures shows the pressing need for regulation of the industry both in terms of limitation in the amount of personal information that companies collect and also liability when these kinds of disclosures occur," Sobel said.

A flurry of disclosures of breaches affecting high-profile companies including Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and DSW Shoe Warehouse has prompted federal lawmakers to draw up legislation designed to better protect consumer privacy.

CardSystems was hit by a virus-like computer script that captured customer data for the purpose of fraud, Gamsin said. She said she did not know how the script got into the system. The FBI was investigating.

MasterCard, which said about 14 million of its own cards were exposed, first announced the breach in a news release late Friday afternoon, saying it was notifying its card-issuing banks of the problem.

Under federal law, credit card holders are liable for no more than $50 of unauthorized charges, and many card issuers including MasterCard will even waive the $50.

Reached on his cell phone, CardSystems' chief financial officer, Michael A. Brady, said: "We were absolutely blindsided by a press release by the association."

He refused to answer any questions and referred calls to the company's chief executive, John M. Perry, and its senior vice president of marketing, Bill N. Reeves. A message left for Perry and Reeves at the company's Atlanta offices was not immediately returned.

CardSystems processes less than 0.5 percent of American Express' domestic transactions, said company spokeswoman Judy Tenzer. She said a small number of its cardholders were affected, though she did not have an exact figure.

"We are aware of the situation, we're closely monitoring it and we do have an investigation under way," Tenzer said.

Discover Financial Services Inc. said it was aware of the situation and would not say whether any of its cards were involved. Visa USA and a large issuer of cards, MBNA Corp., did not immediately calls seeking comment.

CardSystems, which has a processing center in Tuscon, Ariz., has been in business for more than 15 years and handles transactions for more than 115,000 small to mid-sized businesses, according to the company's Web site. The company says it processes transactions worth more than $15 billion annually.

Sobel said the fact that the latest breach involved a third party "indicates that this is a shadowy industry where the consumer never really knows who is going to be handling and using their personal information," he added. "Presumably, the affected consumers thought they were dealing with MasterCard."

Earlier this month, Citigroup said United Parcel Service lost computer tapes with sensitive information from 3.9 million customers of CitiFinancial, a unit that provides personal and home loans.

There have also been breaches involving other kinds of sensitive data.

ChoicePoint Inc. said in February that thieves using stolen identities had created 50 dummy businesses that pulled data including names, addresses and Social Security numbers on as many as 145,000 people.

In March, LexisNexis Inc. disclosed that hackers had commandeered a database and gained access to the personal files of as many as 32,000 people.

The company has since increased its estimate of the people affected to 310,000. Information accessed included names, addresses and Social Security and driver's license numbers, but not credit history, medical records or financial information, corporate parent Reed Elsevier Group PLC said in a statement.

"Hardly a week goes by without startling new examples of breaches of sensitive personal data, reminding us how important it is to pass a comprehensive identity theft prevention bill in Congress quickly," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2005

You Know You Live in LA When....

Had to run to the 24 hour Sav-On early Friday morning to get some rubber cement. (Don't ask, that's another blog entry). It was 2:43am. I got my items, purchased them and left. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I noticed someone standing near the bus bench across the street. It was an older gentleman, wearing a brown leather top hat and a dingy full length faux leopard print coat. The buses don't start running till 5:00am, so, if he was waiting for the bus, he would be there for awhile. He looked like your stereotypical pimp. So, where was his Cadillac? LOL! One of the benefits of living in southern California is the various characters you see at all times of the day. And, you realize, it comes with the territory.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2005

Yah Need to Git Yerself a Real Horn!

'Scuse the misspellings, I feel like white trash today. Hee hee! I went to work in my '72 Camaro this morning. I roll up to a red light. I am third car back from the limit line. The light turns to green. The lane, next to me, starts moving. The guy, two cars in front of me, doesn't. The driver behind him waits a few seconds, then toots his little Toyota horn. "Meeeeeeeeep!" It sounded so wussy and pathetic. The car in front of him doesn't move. I am looking at him to see if he's having car trouble. But, he's just sitting there, looking straight ahead. Oblivious to the lane of traffic moving next to him, and the green light. I wait about 2 more seconds and then slam my hand down on the horn button. "HONK! The horn on my Chevy is loud. Old American cars have decent horns. Mine, is even more decent, because they came off of a 1976 Ford LTD. Needless to say, even though there was a car between us, the guy heard me and finally moved.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

I Owe My Insurance Company an Apology

I posted a rant about my insurance company a couple of days ago, and now I have to eat crow. Or, maybe half a crow. I thought of deleting the comment entirely, and then I could pretend I never posted it, but I decided to confess. I was cleaning up around the living room last night, when I noticed a stack of papers had fallen between the end table and the couch. I pulled them out and noticed it was a pile of circulars and junk mail. And, in all that mess was a letter from our insurance company. I open it and find it was the cancellation notice. *sigh* They had sent one. I missed it. I'm still not sure how that pile got down there. But, that still doesn't explain the fact that I never got an original notice. They wanted me to pay for 6 months in advance for coverage on the 2004 New Beetle. The payment I just remitted covered only the time we were actually covered. That was from the time we drove the Beetle off the lot until the date of cancellation, May 18th. So, even when that check goes through, the car will still not be covered. I pay the premium on the other two cars monthly, for 6 months. I'm trying to remember if they wanted 6 months in advance when I bought my 2003 New Beetle back in November 2003. For the life of me, I really can't remember. I guess I'll have to look in my checkbook resgistries. Anyway, I just sent in a check for the full amount, to see if they will accept it and get the car covered again. Right now, it's sitting in front of the house collecting dirt until I'm sure that it's insured. The girls hate this, because they can't practice driving. Anyway, I apologize insurance company!

Posted by Valkyre at 07:13 PM | Comments (0)