Mass. Papers Expose Customer Credit Cards

The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette admitted Wednesday that the credit card data of up to 240,000 subscribers might have been inadvertently compromised due to a computer glitch. The credit card numbers were printed on routing slips attached to over 9,000 bundles of newspapers sent out to carriers and retailers last weekend.

The error came from the fact that the packing slips were printed on recycled paper containing internal reports with credit card numbers on them. The papers say they have stopped the practice of reusing paper.

According the New York Times Co., which owns both papers, no reports of misuse of the compromised cards have been reported and credit card companies have been alerted to the situation. However, the error comes at a time where consumers are increasingly worried about the security of their data.

High-profile data losses have occurred at Citigroup, DSW Shoe Warehouse, and ChoicePoint over the last year, affecting millions of consumers.

"Immediate steps have been taken internally at the Globe and Telegram & Gazette to increase security around credit card reporting," Boston Globe publisher Richard Gilman said in prepared remarks.

The Globe says it tried to recover as many of the packing slips as possible, but believes most have already been thrown away. Subscribers to either paper can call 1-888-665-2644 to inquire if their credit card number was compromised.

While news like this is troubling, research firm ID Analytics said in December that occurrences of ID theft from situations like this are rare.

The group found that account-level thefts where account numbers were stolen were quite rare, and that indenity-level thefts where names and social security numbers are disclosed pose the greatest risk. However, even here, the rate of theft is less than 1 in 1,000.

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