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Global Payments Breach Puts 1.5 Million Credit Cards at Risk

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bill-swift - April 3, 2012

The odds are good that you don't know Global Payments, but they have probably seen your credit card information at one point or another. At least they have if you have a Visa, a Discover Card or a Master Card, which most credit card holders do. Global Payments is a credit processor and they were hacked.

The company released a statement late on Sunday night admitting that the personal information of more than one million credit card users had been taken by an as yet unknown hacker.The data that was taken includes, but may not be limited to you card number. They were quick to point out that cardholder names, addresses and Social Security numbers were not breached and that is a bit of good news.

Still a serious amount of damage can be done with the card number alone, and since the company is not revealing if the breaches are tied to a certian set of numbers, or tied to a set geographical region or users surnames, everyone will have to be on guard for a while. So be sure to check your statements for charges you didn't make. Though, at least in theory, your credit card company should be contacting you in the near future if your account happens to be one of the breached ones. Smart people wouldn't bank on it though, since getting to the root of hacking issues can take days or weeks.

The company did say that it was primarily servers that held North American users information, but given the size of North America and the number of people with credit cards in the US, Canada and Mexico this information is only marginally helpful.

For now most of the credit card companies involved have released statements saying that they will monitor the situation. Visa has gone so far as to downgrade the company. They are no longer a preferred processor, which means they will pay more in fees in order to run a Visa card. As you can imagine this is not the only finical hit the company has taken. Its stocks were, as of this morning, were trading down by a total of about 12.5% and if the situation continues to go without a substantial response related to future security measures the decline could continue as confidence in the processor goes into freefall. For a company that processes more than $165 billion in transactions each year actions like Visa's from the other processors could be a real blow.

Global Payments has yet to issue a public apology to the 1.5 million people who will be inconvenienced by the breach.

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