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Citi Credit Card Data Hacked

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 13, 2011 6:49 AM

The Citi credit card hack seems to be just one of the many information hacks of 2011.

Citigroup claims that about 1% of North American card holders' information may have been breached. In its annual report in 2010, Citi had reported that it had around 21 million credit card customers in North America.

Alarmingly, the hack occurred more than a month ago - and Citi only confirmed it this week, after the Financial Times broke the story.

According to Citi, the stolen information contains credit card numbers and contact information for customers. It does not include credit card expiration dates, social security numbers, birth dates and card verification numbers, reports CNN.

Still, the delay in Citi's reporting of the hack is some cause for alarm. The company is notifying affected customers via e-mail and via their online accounts, if they have one, according to The New York Times.

Maybe Citi should have taken a long hard look at how Sony dealt with the Sony PlayStation network hack - which has resulted in lawsuits filed against the company for not informing consumers earlier about their data being stolen.

If the breach really was discovered by Citi more than a month ago, why is Citi only coming forward with details about the breach now? Wouldn't consumers have benefitted greatly from knowing that their credit card data was potentially compromised?

Like in the Sony lawsuit, Citi customers might have a basis for suing Citi for negligence in failing to keep their personal information secure. They could also have a basis for a lawsuit due to the relatively long delay between Citi finding out about the breach and informing consumers. After all, if a consumer knew that their credit card information had been hacked into, they might have wanted to make the decision to cancel the card or at least change the card number.

The Citi credit card hack has only been the latest in 2011's string of high profile security hacks - though at this point, no legal action has been taken yet, and the hackers' identities have not been revealed, reports The New York Times.

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