New Zealand credit cards among 40 million 'exposed'

Banks will start notifying affected customers today

New Zealanders will have to wait until later today to find out if their credit cards have been exposed in one of the biggest security breaches in history.

Around 40 million credit card numbers have potentially been exposed by a credit card processing company, CardSystems Solutions, based in Arizona.

Almost 14 million are MasterCard cards, 22 million are Visa cards and the remainder are split between other credit card brands.

A MasterCard spokeswoman says some of the cards were issued to New Zealanders, but the company is still working out how many cards are involved and whether any actual fraud has taken place.

“MasterCard has notified banks and member institutions in New Zealand and has advised them accordingly,” says the company in a written statement. “MasterCard continues to work with all parties on the investigation in the US.”

MasterCard is stressing that while the card numbers may have been stolen that doesn’t mean any actual fraud has taken place at this stage. The New York Times is reporting that CardSystems Solutions says 200,000 card numbers were actually gleaned from the system. The newspaper says CardSystems Solutions has admitted it should not have been storing the credit card details, but was retaining them to determine why certain transactions had registered as unauthorised or incomplete.

ASB Bank's head of technology, Clayton Wakefield, says the company has been talking through the issue with both MasterCard and Visa and has increased its levels of monitoring.

“We monitor card use 24 by 7 for unusual usage and we’ve stepped that up until we can be sure we’ve identified all the issues.” Wakefield says card users shouldn’t be concerned about fraudulent use at this stage.

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