By Emma Elebeke

Visa and Master Card are said to be investigating whether a data security breach at one of the main companies that processes transactions improperly exposed private customer information, bank officials. The breach occurred at Global Payments, an Atlanta company that helps Visa and MasterCard process transactions for merchants.

Meanwhile about one million to three million accounts, according estimates could be affected. Although, the breach does not mean that all those cards were used fraudulently, there were indications that credit card information on the cardholders was exposed.

The incident has opened a crucial vulnerability that could affect millions of credit card holders. The bank official, who insisted on anonymity because the inquiry is at an early stage, said that Visa and MasterCard notified his company on Thursday, but that banks had been frustrated with the pace of disclosure by Global Payments.

He said that Global Payments, which is one of the biggest transactions processors, had provided little information on where the breaches took place, how accounts were hacked and other details that could indicate which customers might be vulnerable. Banks said that when they could identify victims, they would notify them and replace credit cards, if necessary.

This incident might not pass as the largest breach of credit card data in recent years, but the fact that it is being investigated by major banks and federal authorities as well as the card companies, underscores concerns about the vulnerability of electronic financial data.

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