Since the onset of credit cards as early as the mid-1920’s, and particularly with advances in computer technology and specialized banking software, credit card theft has grown in magnitude right alongside the credit card system itself. This kind of fraud has become common enough that issuers and banks recommend cardholders consider credit protection programs, which are designed to shield them from personality theft and the loss of their funds and good credit scores.
Because of the longstanding existence of such defensive measures, the frequency of credit theft might be surprising in our modern age, especially instances in which it occurs on a larger scale. As most people would presume, a higher magnitude of theft would render the crime far more detectable than pilfering the accounts of one or two people, as in the case of Albert Gonzalez stealing information from over 130 million credit cards from several different companies in the late 2000’s.
When this transpires at an exclusive, high-security institution like, say, a university, it may be more troubling still. That is why students of major universities and citizens around the country have felt uneasy since the widespread credit card theft at University of Southern California. Just last month, multiple students’ had credit card information stolen after they had used their cards to purchase food from the campus’s dining halls. USC officials informed students and faculty that the information in question was taken from the software program used at these locations to handle credit and debit transactions.
The manufacturer of this third party software was contacted by the university upon discovery of the security breach in a letter demanding immediate action to remedy the violation. Among the compromised sites were the Starbucks on the campus of health and sciences, Seeds, The Lab, and the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. The number of students affected by the breach remains unknown as of yet. In fact, the issue wasn’t even discovered until several students came forward with claims of credit card theft following their card purchases at these venues, which launched the campus into its current state of investigation.
The exposure of the third-party program occurred between May 21 and June 21, according to the university, although it is possible that the system was compromised even earlier. USC’s own Department of Public Safety is currently investigating the case along with the LAPD, hoping to uncover the perpetrator and factors that placed the cardholders’ information in jeopardy. While USC assured the public that no identifying personal information was taken, they continue to urge students to keep close track of their bank statements and transactions and report any suspicious activity. In the meantime, the public must hope that this is an isolated incident and the heightened security we believe newer technology has afforded us is truly effective in the protection of our monetary assets.
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