Global Payments Inc. Suffers Security Breach

Visa, MasterCard say their systems not compromised

ATLANTA-- The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a security breach at Global Payments Inc., the country's third-largest processor of electronic transfers, that may have put tens of thousands of credit cards at risk for fraud, ABC News reported last week.

MasterCard and Visa alerted the nation's banks, but said their own systems were not compromised.

In a statement, Global Payments--a major provider of electronic transaction processing services for merchants, independent sales organizations (ISOs), financial institutions, government agencies and multi-national corporations located throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region--said that "it identified and self-reported unauthorized access into a portion of its processing system. In early March 2012, the company determined card data may have been accessed. It immediately engaged external experts in information technology forensics and contacted federal law enforcement. The company promptly notified appropriate industry parties to allow them to minimize potential cardholder impact. The company is continuing its investigation into this matter."

MasterCard and Visa alerted the nation's banks, but said their own systems were not compromised.

"MasterCard is concerned whenever there is any possibility that cardholders could be inconvenienced and we continue to both monitor this event and take steps to safeguard account information," MasterCard said in a statement.

Visa issued this statement:

"Visa Inc. is aware of an announcement from Global Payments Inc. that it experienced unauthorized access into a portion of its processing system that may have exposed payment card information from all major card brands. There has been no breach of Visa systems, including its core processing network VisaNet.

"Visa has provided payment card issuers with the affected account numbers so they can take steps to protect consumers through independent fraud monitoring and, if needed, reissuing cards. ... Every business that handles payment card information is expected to protect the security and privacy of their customers' financial information by adhering to the highest data protection standards. Visa also supports advanced security layers such as encryption, tokenization and dynamic authentication through EMV chip technology to further protect sensitive account information and minimize the impact of data compromises."

The Secret Service declined to comment about specifics, saying investigators are in the early stages of their work, according to ABC News.

"Although these cases can be technically complex, the Secret Service relies on a mixture of traditional investigative methods like interviews, surveillance, evidence analysis, and search warrants, along with sophisticated computer forensics to resolve these cases," spokesperson Brian Leary told the news outlet.