February 21, 2003, 12:00 AM

No suspects yet in merchant processor card theft case

The FBI and the Secret Service are continuing to investigate the theft of several million credit card account numbers from a database of Data Processors International, which processes card-not-present transactions for web-based and other merchants.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service are continuing to investigate the theft of several million credit card account numbers from a computer database of Data Processors International, a company that processes card transactions for web-based and other merchants that work with card-not-present transactions, spokesmen for the agencies said today.

Omaha-based DPI, which operates as DPI Merchant Services, said no personal information on cardholders, such as names and addresses, was stolen along with the credit card account numbers. "DPI confirms that the stolen information did not include any personal information that could relate a card number to an individual," a spokesman for the company says. "It remains unclear if any useable data was attained."

There have been no reports of fraudulent purchases made with the stolen account numbers, according to DPI and the Electronic Retailing Association, an organization of TV and web retailers, catalogers and direct-mail merchants that endorses DPI as a processor.

The DPI spokesman says he was unable to confirm the number of card accounts that had been accessed, though Visa U.S.A. said there were 3.4 million Visa accounts and MasterCard International noted 2.2 million MasterCard accounts. Discover Financial Services and American Express Co. said some of their account numbers were also hacked but did not provide any amounts. Overall, government and card company officials said that as many as 8 million accounts could have been accessed.

The DPI spokesman says his company had been asked by the F.B.I. and the Secret Service not to discuss the incident so as not to disrupt their investigations.

Barbara Tulipane, executive vice president of the ERA, says the theft would not change DPI`s endorsement status. "They`re taking all the appropriate actions, and their response to this has been very thought-out and very deliberate," she says. Top officials of the ERA and DPI will meet next week to discuss the theft and how similar incidents can be avoided in the future, Tulipane adds.

DPI is a unit of Dallas-based TransFirst, a provider of processing services and payment technology.



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