Paper checks haven’t gone away entirely. But credit cards are now so common that we tend to take them for granted – until one is stolen or there is a security breach that causes widespread misuse.

Many people in the St. Louis area are currently dealing with the latter scenario. Police in Maryland Heights have recently received at least 30 reports of unauthorized charges on credit cards. Most of the people affected had shopped at Schnuck Markets, a grocery store chain.

Several other law enforcement agencies in the St. Louis area have received similar reports, as so has the Missouri attorney general’s office. The unauthorized charges involved range from the very small to thousands of dollars.

Schnucks has engaged outside forensic experts to determine the cause of the apparent security breach and take appropriate steps to respond. The company has also assured consumers that it is safe to shop at Schnucks.

Identity theft is a natural concern in cases such as this. But the fact is that credit card data breaches occur rather often in today’s society. Last year, the national bookstore chain Barnes & Noble was targeted by hackers. Credit card information was stolen from customers at 63 of its stores around the country.

The process of delving into a company’s databases to determine what caused a security breach can be complicated. But forensic investigations for that purpose are increasingly needed in a society that has become so reliant on digital commerce. And after all, paper checks had their potential problems too, such as forgery.

Source: “Reports of credit-card fraud from Schnucks customers continue to grow,” St. Louis post-Dispatch, Georgina Gustin, 3-28-13

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