[ISN] HSBC acts on card snafu

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Apr 14 08:56:15 EDT 2005


By: Caleb Silver 
CNN Business News  
April 13, 2005

NEW YORK (CNN) - As many as 187,000 GM MasterCard customers may have 
potentially had their personal information exposed, officials with 
card issuer HSBC Holdings said Wednesday. 

About 6 million HSBC (Research) customers hold GM-branded MasterCards, 
according to the automaker, and letters have been sent so far to 1,200 
telling them their information may have been open to compromise when 
they shopped with an undisclosed retailer. 

There is no evidence any card accounts have actually been compromised, 
said a spokesman for HSBC. In the interest of "better safe than 
sorry," HSBC is proactively warning its customers, he said. The 
remaining 185,800 cardholders affected will be notified between now 
and mid-May, according to HSBC. 

HSBC insisted the bank is not to blame for the security breach. "This 
is not an issue with our card," said Tom Nicholson, a spokesman for 
HSBC. "It's an issue with the retailer." 

HSBC said it was notified by MasterCard's Fraud Management Department 
in March about the breach, but was not provided with details on the 
unnamed retailer. 

GM MasterCard, in a letter to customers, said it did not know the 
merchant involved and urged customers to replace their credit cards as 
soon as possible "due to the serious nature of this situation," the 
Boston Globe reported. 

The security breach is the latest example of private financial 
information being improperly accessed in recent weeks by companies 
that compile an sell personal information about millions of Americans. 

Lexis-Nexis said Tuesday that data on 310,000 people nationwide may 
have been stolen -- 10 times its estimate of just a month earlier. 

Household Bank, acquired by HSBC in 2002, began issuing the GM 
MasterCard Rewards card in 1992. 

Customers earn points towards the purchase or lease of GM vehicles, 
and GM says more than 4 million GM cars have been bought or leased by 
Rewards customers since the card was launched. 

For more on what you can do to protect yourself from the problems of 
identity theft, click here [1]. 

[1] http://money.cnn.com/news/specials/security/

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