University of Iowa Credit Cards Stolen? Probably.

May 18, 2005

University of Iowa, on the risk to 30,000 credit card holders who have conducted business with its bookstore: "On May 18, 2005 a computer containing credit card numbers and student/employee ID numbers of University Book Store customers was accessed without authorization from someone outside the UI network. Upon discovering the breach, the University of Iowa Bookstore shut down and isolated the computer system. There is no evidence the intruder obtained any data."

"Even if someone had retrieved your information, which does not appear to be the case here, it doesn't mean you are a victim of identity theft or that the person intended to use the information to commit fraud."

For Nervous Nellies, the University advises,"The best way to protect yourself is to place a fraud alert on your credit files and review your credit reports, which you can obtain from one of three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. If you notice accounts on your credit report that you did not open or applications for credit ("inquiries") that you did not make, these could be indications that someone else is using your personal information, without your permission."

In other words,"Surely a vandal wouldn't also be a thief. How irregular! Don't worry. Be happy."

Update: Shortly after May 18, 2005, our monthly credit card statement reconciliation revealed an unauthorized charge through an Internet hosting service in Des Moines, Iowa. The hosting service quickly offered to send a check.

Instead, American Express was notified. A new card was delivered the next morning. The Amex rep says this happens hundreds of times a day... notes that the merchant will be properly investigated. (Frankly, as an American Express merchant, we'd rather be investigated by the FBI. Less painful.)

Summary: If you even suspect your card may have been compromised, don't wait. Call for a new card. Your credit card supplier will be delighted to comply.

And when someone pats your hand and tells you not to worry...

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