A few days ago my wife received a letter from our credit union,
"Important information regarding your- MasterCard Credit Card
Dear Member: Visa and MasterCard's Fraud Control has advised XXXX
Credit Union that 11,788 Visa accounts and 13,489 MasterCard accounts
were potentially compromised by a third party merchant.
Preliminary investigations have confirmed that the merchant's computer
system was storing *full magnetic strip information*
To remedy this vulnerability, the merchant is working to remove
magnetic strip data from the merchant's systems, and is in the process
of disabling the system from storing this type of information in the
future. Fraud activity has been reported in USA, Great Britain, Spain,
Italy, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany,
Switzerland, South Africa, Portugal, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Hong
To avoid any future fraudulent activity, your existing card has been
blocked from any future authorizations."
I don't know what data is contained in the "full magnetic strip
information", but apparently if could be your life story.
Between this kind of thing and the Choicepoint mess
(http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?idQ4412 ) I think I'm going
to close all my credit cards and go back to using cash.