News Release:

Statement on Mastercard Security Breach Affecting Up To 40 Million Cards

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For Immediate Release, 17 June 2005

Contact: Ed Mierzwinski, 202-546-9470x314

Statement of U.S. PIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski On Breach Reported By Mastercard

"The latest breach of the week, reported by Mastercard to affect up to 40 million bank cards, demonstrates both the sloppy way companies treat our financial DNA and the continuing importance of strong state privacy laws. We would have never learned about the recent series of security breaches if not for California's breach notification law. It's given consumers not only a window onto just how companies fail to take care of our information but also the ability to quickly take advantage of available protections against identity theft. This year, at least nine states have enacted similar breach laws, or laws giving consumers the right to freeze access to their credit reports, or both.

Yet, the state PIRGs fully expect Congress to come to the wrong conclusion and try to pass a federal breach law that takes away what we call the several states' "power to protect."

Congress, if it decides to finally get around to protecting privacy, should do the right thing and enact floor protection that allows states to continue to protect their citizens better. The record shows that the states have always led on privacy and identity theft protection yet Congress has always sought to limit their rights to do so, while instead doing the will of big business. What's wrong with this picture?"

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For more information and a copy of the State PIRG Model Identity Theft Law, see the State PIRG Identity Theft Pages.