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1.5 million credit card numbers compromised by hackers

Published: Monday, April 2 2012 3:09 p.m. MDT

A Visa card holder holds up his card next to a credit card reader at Best Buy in Mountain View, Calif., Monday, Feb. 25, 2008.

Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

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Hackers breached Global Payments, a processor of credit card payments for Visa, MasterCard and Discover, and possibly stole about 1.5 million credit card numbers, according to NPR.

"The investigation to date has revealed that Track 2 card data may have been stolen, but that cardholder names, addresses and social security numbers were not obtained by the criminals," the company told NPR in a statement. "Based on the forensic analysis to date, network monitoring and additional security measures, the company believes that this incident is contained."

With Track 2 data, the hackers are able to recreate a magnetic strip, but will be stuck if merchants ask for a security code.

But security problems are just the beginning of the worries for the third-party credit card company.

Visa has dropped Global Payments from its registry as a result of the massive data breach, according to Time.

Paul Garcia, chief executive officer of Global Payments, told Time that the company will continue to process Visa transactions, but the credit card provider’s decision “could give our partners some pause that they’re doing business with someone who experienced a breach.”

Credit card data may have been stolen, but cardholder names, addresses and Social Security cards remain unharmed, the company told Time. Global Payments will also set up a website later Monday to assist consumers who may run into problems due to the breach.

The likelihood that your credit card was stolen is slim, but there is still reason for alarm, according to Business Insider.

Even if a credit card wasn’t stolen in the Global Payments incident, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk for theft in the future.

The Business Insider article offers tips for keeping credit cards safe, including monitoring transactions and contacting financial institutions after noticing suspicious activity in statements.

"It's important for U.S. Visa consumer cardholders to know they are protected against fraudulent purchases with Visa's zero liability fraud protection policy, which exceeds federal safeguards,” Visa told Business Insider in a statement. “As always, Visa encourages cardholders to regularly monitor their accounts and to notify their issuing financial institution promptly of any unusual activity."

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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