Target, which disclosed Thursday a massive breach involving the credit and debit cards of up to 40 million customers, is a client of Columbus-based TSYS.
But the credit-card processor said emphatically it has nothing to do with the security breakdown that allowed hackers to grab the names, card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes of Target customers making purchases from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15.
“I can say it’s not TSYS, and we only know what we see in the news,” said TSYS spokesman Cyle Mims.
The Columbus company, which does business with banks and retailers around the world, was tight-lipped about the unauthorized access at the Target stores, which apparently involved various types of card brands.
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Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has long been a client of TSYS, issuing its store-brand and other credit cards with the red target logo, processing transactions, and completing the billing and statement process. It was in 2000 that the retailer signed an initial agreement, then followed that with a long-term renewal in 2008.
“Target is a marquee client for TSYS and a highly valued retail brand,” Troy Woods, TSYS president and chief operating officer, said at the time of the renewal. It included processing of the Target Visa credit card, the Target credit card, the Target check card and the Target business card.
Media reports Thursday indicated the data breach occurred through the point-of-sale devices, or swipe terminals, inside virtually every Target store in the U.S., but apparently not during online purchases. The company has nearly 1,800 stores in the U.S., including one on Bradley Park Drive in Columbus. Its 124 stores in Canada were not impacted, it said.
“Your trust is a top priority for Target, and we deeply regret the inconvenience this may cause,” the retailer said in a news release.
Target said it is working “swiftly” to determine how the attack occurred starting just prior to the Black Friday holiday shopping season. The company said it has hired a forensics firm to investigate the breach.
Target urged consumers to “remain vigilant” and keep a cautious eye on their credit card accounts and credit reports, reporting any suspected fraud or identity theft to their card issuer and law enforcement.
Credit-card processors such as TSYS and their data systems are prime targets for hackers looking to steal troves of personal consumer information. The company has said previously that it constantly monitors its systems for any intrusions or hacking attempts.
It also offers clients security services, according to its website, with a security suite of products called TSYS Guardian.
“Data breaches and security compromises are accompanied by huge fines and can negatively impact a business’ reputation,” the website says. “Without proper security measures, a single data breach could potentially put a merchant out of business.”
SmartMetric, which offers fingerprint-activated and internally encrypted credit card products, cited a recent report from industry trade journal Nilson Report on the growing prevalence of card fraud. It said the total damage in the U.S. alone in 2012 came to $5.33 billion.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Suspect fraud or identity theft involving your credit card, debit card or other personal accounts? Aside from contacting the card issuer and law enforcement, Target on Thursday recommended other action. It includes:
Contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or call the FTC, at 1-877-438-4338, or write to Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 20580.
Consumers should also periodically obtain credit reports from each nationwide credit reporting agency. If any information on the credit report appears fraudulent, request that the credit reporting agency delete that information from the credit report file.
Also, under federal law, consumers are entitled to one free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Obtain a free copy by going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.