Global Payments Says Breach Affected Fewer Than 1.5 Million

Global Payments Inc. (GPN), the bank-card processor whose shares were halted last week after reports of a data breach, said perpetrators may have obtained fewer than 1.5 million card numbers.

The impact is confined to North America, the Atlanta-based company said yesterday in a statement. So-called track 2 data, the information encoded on the back of payment cards, may have been stolen while cardholder names, addresses and Social Security numbers weren’t compromised, the firm said.

“These are fiends, these are bad guys, these are guys who are working day and night to hurt all of us,” Chairman and Chief Executive OfficerPaul R. Garcia said today on a call with analysts. “How’d they get in in the first place? That’s not a good thing.”

Global Payments, a so-called merchant acquirer that sets up retailers to accept credit and debit cards, plunged as much as 14 percent on March 30 and was down 9 percent when trading in its stock was halted. The Wall Street Journal reported the same day that 50,000 cardholders may have been put at risk as the firm was hit by a security breach, and krebsonsecurity.com, which tracks cybercrimes, said more than 10 million accounts may have been affected by an incident in the payments industry.

The stock fell an additional 3.2 percent today to $46 at 9:51 a.m. in New York.

‘Incident Is Contained’

After the breach, Visa Inc. (V) removed Global Payments from a list of service providers meeting certain compliance criteria, something the firm is trying to remedy, Garcia said. The firm can’t yet estimate how much the incident will cost, he said.

“Based on the forensic analysis to date, network monitoring and additional security measures, the company believes that this incident is contained,” it said in the statement.

Global Payments said today that net income for the quarter ending Feb. 29 rose 21 percent to $57.9 million, compared with the year-earlier period. Cash earnings per share were 83 cents, it said. The average estimate of 25 analysts in a Bloomberg survey was for 76 cents a share.

“Business as usual sounds a little trite, but we’re trying to make that exactly what it is,” Garcia said.

Global Payments, the seventh-biggest merchant acquirer in the U.S., processed 2.44 billion purchase transactions last year through 800,000 merchant outlets, according to the Nilson Report, an industry newsletter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donal Griffin in New York at dgriffin10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net

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