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Crackers gain sight of up to 5m credit cards

Visa and Mastercard reassure punters they won't lose out

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Computer crackers have obtained details of up to five million US Visa and MasterCard accounts, the two firms admitted yesterday.

CNN reports that attackers gained the details after compromising systems that process credit card transactions. Technical details of how the attack was carried out are so far thin on the ground amidst conflicting reports on the scale of the problem.

CNN reports details of up to 2.2 million Visa and Mastercard accounts have been accessed, while Reuters reckons up to five million accounts have been viewed by crims.

Although none of the cards have been used fraudulently, at least according to Visa spokesman John Adams, banks have been alerted and a major withdrawal/recall program can be expected.

Fortunately both companies have zero-liability policies for their US customers. This means if the cards are used fraudulently, customers will not be liable for unauthorised charges.

It's unclear which card issuing banks are affected by the problem, though early reports suggest the problem is nationwide.

Citizens Bank, a financial services firm in Northeastern USA, closed the accounts of "8,800 customers whose [Mastercard] card numbers had been accessed". Bank spokeswoman Pamela Crawley told CNN that accounts were "safe" for the possibility of further misuse.

The FBI has been called in to investigate the case. ®

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