Last week, MasterCard and VISA rang the alarm bell to warn banks and credit unions across the country about a new data breach discovered in March.
It seems that Atlanta-based credit card processor Global Payments Inc. has been the victim of a potentially significant data breach, reminiscent of the Heartland Payment Systems breach in 2009.
The size and scope remain to be seen in comparison to that of earlier massive breaches. Heartland’s breach reportedly exposed in excess of 130 million accounts, while the Global Payments breach is estimated (by company officials) to involve about 1.5 million accounts.
Global Payments Chairman and Chief Executive Paul Garcia says his company is ” working around the clock literally”, to get back into good standing with VISA, who removed the card processing company from their list of approved vendors.
Security experts warn that this breach is a reminder that no single layer of protection is sufficient to keep data safe from today’s most determined and sophisticated financial criminals. It is also sobering to keep in mind that many intruders are insiders who may already have full-access to consumer’s so-called KBA (knowledge-based authentication) secrets.
This means that those clever little questions you are often asked in order to “authenticate” your identity, do not by themselves provide sufficient protection of your data. In many cases, the bad guys already have your answers!
For companies to remain compliant with PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards, multiple layers must be in place to defend against determined fraudsters. We trust that the vendors who hold our data are doing all they can to protect it. It bears repeating that TRUST is the new currency for those looking to buy financial peace of mind.
How can you protect yourself as a consumer? Here are 3 ways.
1. Examine you monthly credit card statement for even the smallest irregularities and report them immediately.
2. Check your personal credit report for free year-round, by staggering requests every 4 months at: http://www.annualcreditreport.com
3. Visit VISA’s fraud prevention website for tips and insight at: http://www.visasecuritysense.com
Fighting fraud is a winding road. By remaining informed and vigilant, you can put up a good defense at every turn.
Who do you trust with YOUR data?
Dale Penn is an Identity Theft Speaker and author of the award-winning book Identity Theft Secrets: Exposing The Tricks Of The Trade.
Follow him on Twitter: @dalepenn