Citi Data Breach Exposes Personal Data of 200,000 Customers | CreditShout

Citi Data Breach Exposes Personal Data of 200,000 Customers

By Dan Rafter / June 15, 2011

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Every day seems to bring news of yet another online security breach from a major financial firm. This time, it’s Citigroup that’s suffering the bad press.

According to a report from American Banker magazine, a Citigroup security breach has exposed the personal data of as many of 200,000 of the firm’s credit card customers in North America.

The bank first discovered the breach in early May, and identified Citi Account Online as the problem area. This online repository contains the names, account numbers and e-mail addresses of Citigroup’s credit card customer accounts, according to American Banker.

In a bit of good news, Citigroup reported that more sensitive information such as birth dates, card security codes and Social Security Numbers were not exposed in the breach. That information is stored in a different location.

What Now? Like all financial institutions that suffer a major data breach, Citigroup is now in damage-control mode. Though the firm offered no specific details, it has told reporters that it is taking steps to beef up the security of its data.

But can Citigroup prevent another security breach? Can only online financial services company? That’s doubtful.

Cyber criminals will always find a creative way around any security system. It’s just the nature of the relationship between online thieves and the financial firms on which they prey.

Customer Safety: There’s nothing that Citigroup’s customers could have done to prevent their data from being scooped up in this latest security breach. But that doesn’t mean that consumers have to be content with being victims.

In the Citigroup breach, online thieves can now use customer e-mail accounts to pose as bank representatives. You can bet these predators will try to pry the real good information — Social Security Numbers and PINs — from Citigrouip customers.

Customers can protect themselves by never providing sensitive information by e-mail. No legitimate company will ever ask for consumer Social Security, account, PIN or other important numbers by e-mail. Consumers who receive e-mails asking for such information should immediately delete them.

Cyber crime will continue to make headlines across the country. We’ve entered an age in which so much of the banking that we do is done online. It’s a great time for the most skilled of cyber criminals.

But consumers who are savvy to phishing schemes and other scams remain the best defense against these online thieves.

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