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Hackers Outsmart Heartland

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Professional hackers broke into retailer TJX’s system in 2007 and stole nearly 100 million customer records. Now, another group of professionals has struck again and put thousands of additional consumers at risk for identity theft or credit card fraud.

Heartland Payment Systems, one of the country’s largest credit card processors, recently announced a security breach that may end up putting the TJX fiasco to shame. Heartland processes more than 100 million transactions per month for approximately 175,000 merchants, and it appears its system may have been breached for several months before the company was tipped off by Visa and Mastercard due to suspicious transactions. Heartland President, Robert Baldwin, actually used the words “longer than weeks” when describing the length of the security breach in an interview with USA TODAY. Longer than weeks?

It sounds like he really meant to say “months” to me. Keep in mind that this is a company that has received awards for technological excellence in the industry and prides itself in the security of its systems. Unfortunately, this just proves that fact that no business is capable of outsmarting all the professional hackers out there. You can try really hard to follow all the rules, but the risk will always be there. Nothing is 100 percent secure.

Of course, Heartland has yet to announce how many people could potentially be affected by the breach. If you used credit cards at any one of the 175,000 restaurants, retail stores, and hotels around the country that utilize Heartland’s payment processing system, it could be you. So, keep a close eye on your credit reports during the next several months and expect a notification from Heartland Payment Systems if your personal information was possibly stolen.

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn was President of Creditnet, is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past ten years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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