MasterCard International has reported what could be the word's biggest ever identity theft. It says that credit card data on 40 million customers could have been compromised after a breach of security at one of its third-party credit card processing companies in the
This is the latest identity theft scare to affect major US companies and institutions. In past months CitiBank, Bank of America, Lexis-Nexis, MCI, Time Warner,
The compromised MasterCard customer details include almost 14 million customers of MasterCard-branded cards issued by banks and other credit companies such as Visa and American Express.
MasterCard said the systems of Arizona-based CardSystems were breached. It is believed the incident happened last month and CardSystems called in the FBI to investigate.
The card details did not include national insurance numbers and dates of births of customers, which would have made it easier for fraudsters to carry out identity theft crimes.
MasterCard said it had given CardSystems a deadline to bring its security up to acceptable standards.
So far no incidents of the stolen details being used for fraud have been reported. MasterCard and banks are warning customers to monitor their accounts.