Thousands of Iowa credit card numbers stolen - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Thousands of Iowa credit card numbers stolen

Dubuque (KWWL) -- Your credit card number could be one of those stolen in a nationwide security breach. Heartland Payment Systems, which is not affiliated with local Heartland Financial group, says its payment processing system has been breached.

For several months in 2008, hackers were lifting credit and debit card numbers from people using retailers all across the country. More than 250,000 businesses in the country use Heartland Payment Systems to process credit and debit card transactions.

Heartland is not disclosing the retailers that use their system, and if you happened to swipe your card at one of them, your credit card number might be in the hands of hackers and banks and credit unions, like Dupaco, are trying to sort things out.

"We could be looking in the neighborhood of seven to ten thousand," Greg Liddle, Executive Vice President at Dupaco Credit Union said.

7,000-10,000 cards compromised -- that's just at Dupaco. Other eastern Iowa financial institutions are reporting numbers that high and higher.

"They process card transactions for 250,000 businesses versus you take like a TJ Maxx, that's just one large retailer. So, you know, the magnitude of this is going to be a lot greater than even the TJ Maxx compromise a few years ago."

The numbers are pouring in: Lists from Mastercard and Visa telling card issuers their customers data is in the hands of hackers.

"We will be sending out a letter to everyone that's been affected, and this list could grow. This may be something we're at a week from now. It'll be a new list, you know maybe another day, a new list," Liddle said.

Heartland representatives say only card numbers were stolen -- not pin numbers, addresses, social security numbers or other information

"Without this information, it is extremely difficult for data compromise, which is what this matter is, to become identity theft. So, consumers, cardholders should take a step back, and once people I think understand that, it's a pretty reassuring message," Jason Maloni, Heartland spokesperson, said.

Company officials say they've had very few reports of charges to cardholders with stolen numbers, and even those cases might not have been related to this breach.

"We've tracked it. We haven't had anything out of the ordinary that we can pin down to this compromise, which is good," Liddle said.

Credit unions and banks are paying the price for the Heartland compromise. Liddle says there is no federal legal protection, and Dupaco will have to pay all the costs for issuing new cards and deal with any unauthorized charges through their insurance.

Most local financial institutions will send you a letter and a new card if your information was compromised. Meantime, bank and credit union officials say it's even more important to track your debit and credit card accounts.

Heartland says the breach has been completely sealed, and the company is still working with federal authorities, the Department of Justice and Secret Service -- in an attempt to catch the thieves.

If you have questions, you can call Heartland at 1-866-399-6228 or visit their site.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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