Friday, April 15, 2005

Security scare hits HSBC's cards

Security scare hits HSBC's cards
A security scare in the US has prompted global banking giant HSBC to send out warning letters to 180,000 customers.

Holders of the General Motors GM Mastercard, issued by HSBC, are being informed that criminals may have gained access to their credit card details.

The breach occurred at a retailer, HSBC said. The Wall Street Journal claims that those being contacted had shopped at clothing firm Polo Ralph Lauren.

Credit card fraud and identity theft is a growing problem in the US and Europe.

Keeping quiet

HSBC said it was doing everything that was "humanly possible" to resolve the situation.

A representative at Polo Ralph Lauren in New York said the company was not commenting on the Wall Street Journal's story at this stage.

Recent mishaps have drawn attention to how companies protect personal information, especially if they sell this information on to insurance firms, law enforcement agencies and possible employers.

The US Senate has been hearing testimony from executives at LexisNexis, a database and information company owned by publishing giant Reed Elsevier.

LexisNexis has admitted that the personal details of 310,000 people have been improperly accessed since January 2003.

On Wednesday, executives from the firm said that there may have been earlier unreported breaches of security.

Choicepoint, a firm that verifies personal information for banks, business and governments, has also had problems, admitting that data on 145,000 people had been compromised.

US law currently does not require firms to inform clients of a security alert.

It is up the individual states to legislate and critics claim that - as a result - there is a lack of national cohesion in efforts to fight credit card fraud.