Secret Service confirms credit card hack investigation

Chris Davies - Mar 31, 2012
Secret Service confirms credit card hack investigation

A credit card hack potentially impacting millions of shoppers with MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover accounts is being investigated by the US Secret Service, it has been confirmed, with retailers potentially bearing the brunt of any cash stolen. Money middleman Global Payments confirmed the March breach last week, though failed to put an exact figure on how many bank and card customers may have been affected; the Secret Service confirmed that it is looking into the hack, the CSMonitor reports.

Due to the way fraudulent purchases are processed, it will be retailers who first have to stomach any losses caused by illegal payments. Customers themselves, it’s expected, should not be affected if their cards are misused. However, retailers could then file legal claims against Global Payments for reimbursement.

Full details of the hack have not been released, but those responsible are believed to have intercepted the so-called Track 1 and Track 2 data from transactions. That information could be baked into fake credit cards and sold on.

However, any unauthorized attempts to use the credit card data could be blocked if merchants follow full security guidelines and insist on checking the security or “CV” code. The three-digit string on the tail end of the signature strip is an extra check for identity, and not transmitted with the regular account number and expiry dates.

Exactly how many customers have been impacted is unclear. Initial reports suggested it could total millions, though subsequent estimates – citing Global Payments relatively minor stake in the industry, it processing 3.5-percent of the market – circled around the tens of thousands. A Secret Services spokesperson declined to give information on the case, though confirmed the agency is leading the investigation.

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