Visa deals with possible data breach

By Natalie Weinstein

Story last modified Sat Dec 24 11:03:00 PST 2005


Visa USA acknowledged Saturday that a U.S. merchant "may have experienced a
data security breach" that compromised credit card account information.

The statement came in response to a inquiry related to customers
whose Visa debit cards had been put on fraud watch or deactivated due to a
security breach. The customers include a San Francisco Bay Area man whose
Wells Fargo-issued card had been deactivated and a couple in Ohio whose card
was placed on a watch.

In its statement issued Saturday, Visa said that after it learned "of the
compromise, Visa quickly alerted the affected financial institutions to
protect consumers through independent fraud monitoring and, if needed,
reissuing cards."

A Visa representative said Saturday that no other information was available
at this time, including the name of the merchant, the number of accounts
involved or when the event occurred.

Data theft and identity theft came to the fore this year, when a data
security breach at payment processing company CardSystems Solutions exposed
more than 40 million credit card accounts to fraud, primarily Visa and
MasterCard cards.

Other major data leaks this year involved financial institutions Bank of
America and Wachovia, data brokers ChoicePoint and LexisNexis, and the
University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University.

Visa's statement on Saturday reiterated its stance on credit card security.

"As Visa has said before, it's important that every entity that handles
payment card information adhere to the highest data protection standards,
such as the Payment Card Industry...standard, to protect the security and
privacy of their customers. Visa is aggressively partnering with entities
across the nation to broaden adherence to these standards," the statement

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