By Robert McMillan
IDG News Service
February 25, 2009
Federal agencies, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, have begun investigating
Heartland Payment Systems following a massive data breach at the payment
Company President and Chief Financial Officer Robert Baldwin Jr.
disclosed the investigations during Heartland's quarterly conference
call with investigators Tuesday, saying that the SEC had launched an
informal inquiry into the company and that there is also a related
investigation by the Department of Justice. The U.S. Department of the
Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which
regulates national banks and their service providers, has launched an
inquiry, as has the FTC, he said.
Heartland has also been hit with a class-action lawsuit relating to the
breach, which was publicly disclosed on Jan. 20. "We may, in the future,
be subjected to other governmental inquiries and investigations,"
Baldwin said during the call. "We intend to vigorously defend any claims
asserted against us."
Hackers were able to break into Heartland's systems and collect
unencrypted data on payment card transactions that the company processed
on behalf of its merchant clients. Merchants at about 250,000 locations,
including retail stores, gas stations and hotels, use Heartland's
services. Heartland does not know how long the hackers were able to
steal credit card information or how many cards were affected.
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