Heartland Data Breach Likely Biggest Ever
ARLINGTON, VA -- Although neither Visa nor MasterCard have released any data yet, the card brands have been telling processors and issuers that the number of card accounts compromised in the breach of Heartland's Payment Systems data security will range from at least 80 million up to slightly more than 100 million.
Sources familiar with card processing declined to speak for the record since they had not been authorized to speak for the press on this issue, but they said nonetheless that the scope of the Heartland breach dwarfs the breach at TJX in 2007 and CardSystems Solutions in 2005. TJX owned up to over 45 million cards compromised, though later litigants claimed a higher figure. Eventually, 40 million accounts compromised were laid at the feet of CardSystems.
Sources said so many card numbers may be involved in the Heartland breach because a significant number of Heartland's merchant clients are gas stations and convenience stores, place with a high transaction volume.
Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Heartland who works for Levick Strategic Communications, a crisis management communications firm, insisted that the company still didn't know how many card accounts were compromised and that any numbers being reported were speculative.
"We just don't know [how many accounts were compromised]," Maloni said. "And if we don't know, nobody knows."