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May 3, 2008

Tech, G.P.: Credit card security needs upgrade

My daughter was in a store buying something the other day. When she tried to use her credit card. it was declined.

Not to be deterred, she pulled out another one, and that one worked fine.

After all, who has just one credit card anymore?

Wondering why the first one she tried was declined, she called the issuing bank.

She knew she hadn't missed any payments or gone over her limit, so why wouldn't it work?

It turns out that she shops at Hannaford, and earlier this year it was discovered that the supermarket chain had a data breach where millions of credit card numbers were gobbled up by bad guys.

My daughter's was one of them, and the bank had dutifully stopped the card from working so the bad guys (or maybe gals) couldn't use them. This is not a bad idea.

A bad idea is doing it without informing the cardholder. That's what they did.

And I've found out that my daughter wasn't the only local person embarrassed at the cash register this way.

Geez, guys, couldn't you have made a phone call when you cut off the card? Or even an automated phone call? After all, it's not rocket science.

They sent her a new card after she called them, but the process was _ to say the least _ not handled well.

I can imagine all the marketing people at Citibank cringing. Whoops! Did I say that name out loud? My bad.

Anyway, let's step back and cast a broader view toward the whole mess.

This may be the first data breach that was widely felt locally, but it is certainly not the first time credit card numbers have been stolen.

That's been going on a long time, and is not that surprising. After all, crooks are crooks, and they never stop trying.

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