Spanish payment breach prompts huge German card recall
Holidaymakers at risk of fraud
German authorities have recalled more than 100,000 credit cards over fears that crooks may have obtained details of the cards via an unnamed Spanish payment processing firm.
Holidaymakers who used their Visa or Mastercard credit card in Spain may be at risk of fraud following the reported security breach, which prompted the largest plastic card recall in German history. The Volks and Raiffeisenbank banking group alone recalled 60,000 potentially compromised credit cards as a precautionary measure, AFP reports.
Holders of cards issued by DKB-Bank, Barclays and Karstadt-Quelle are among those at risk, El Pais adds.
In a statement, the German Central Credit Card Commission (ZKA) described the measures as precautionary, adding that affected cardholders would be notified by their banks and not left out of pocket in the event of any fraud. Cardholders are nonetheless advised to check their statements for suspicious transactions.
ZKA's statement (translated below) goes on to explain that the exchange of cards is almost complete.
The German banking industry has responded rapidly to the warning of Visa and MasterCard regarding a possible theft at a Spanish company to credit card data from German customers. The potentially compromised cards will be exchanged free of charge reported by German banks and savings banks. This exchange is almost complete. It is primarily a precautionary measure and a routine operation.
Both Visa and Mastercard maintain their systems have not been compromised, pointing to problems elsewhere in the payment chain. UK customers will be contacted directly if their details have been exposed.
Spanish reports in El Pais (here) and El Mundo (here) suggest that the breach affects a payment processor in Spain that handled card payments for cards issued outside of the country but this remains unclear.
Visa Europe told the BBC that it is "aware of a possible card data security issue in Spain. No details are yet confirmed, but we do not believe that the issue is specific to Visa." ®
Looking under the rug
@Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse
"In good old Blighty" it would be swept under the carpet ..."
Did you check under the rug?
I fail to see how this only affects German credit cards used in Spain via the payment clearing house in question. Did the data thieves get selective? Surely it affects all CCs used through this particular, (as yet) unnamed clearing house (and I don't expect it will be named, ever); unless the defrauders decided that the German banking system was the softest target.
It would also be helpful to customers if the banks told us what to look for on our statements, in terms of discrepancies (spurious transactions, or "doctored" amounts?). It seems the word is to give as little word as possible. Keep it quiet, lest the public loses confidence in the banking system ... wait ... stable door anyone?
As for Spain being the "Wild West", well maybe, but we get to carry (metaphorical) guns and not told how we should live our lives by a nanny state. Actually, we do get told, but no one listens. It's what's so great about Spain :P
I'm in two minds about this.
I've known about this for about a week because we have an account with one of the affected banks, and our card has been blocked. Whilst I'm fairly impressed with the response - block then inform - there are lots of stories of people being stranded with no access to their accounts. Several people only found out about it when they came to pay hotel bills! I can't decide if this is better than the standard UK banks' response of "There is no problem, and anything that looks like a problem is your fault"!
However, whilst the response seems to have been robust, it seems to have been delayed for a few months, and trying to find hard facts is very difficult, so maybe it is merely a variation on the UK response.
Not trying to be patriotic but
I live in Spain for the last... yes, since I was born or about 40 something years ago. I use a credit card since 17. Never, ever myself nor any friend or relative has had a card cloned. The anecdotal evidence provided in a post by an unfortunate traveller should not be used as a measure of the level of security in Spain.
Remember, this country is visited each year by more than the number of its own inhabitants. In these scales, you can find single examples of almost anything happening to someone in Spain. Which is by no means the indicator of any general property of the country.
That said, when I travel to the UK I feel both more secure (police seems to be better integrated in society) and more watched (why are you so obsessed with TV cameras all over the place)
And yes, there are data thefts as well.