Belgian and German data protection regulators were notified by Mastercard of a possible data breach, Bloomberg reported on Friday (Aug. 23).
The breach was first noticed on Aug. 19 and “affected a large number of data subjects,” the Belgian watchdog said in a statement. The leak involved 90,000 customers’ names, addresses and credit card numbers.
Mastercard said in a statement that the incident “has no connection to Mastercard’s payment transaction network … there was an event involving the Specials loyalty platform in Germany managed by a third-party vendor, which resulted in the unauthorized distribution of certain information.”
“We have received a lot of questions and complaints since the announcement of this incident. We want to reassure users: we have contacted Mastercard in order to get additional information, and are following this case closely together with the Hessian data protection authority and all the other possible concerned authorities,” David Stevens, chairman of the Belgian Data Protection Authority, said in the statement.
The loyalty program, Priceless Specials, was operated by a third-party service provider and was shut down after the company first became aware of the breach.
“We take data protection and security very seriously and therefore do our utmost to investigate and solve the problem related to the operator of the specials platform in Germany,” a company spokeswoman said.
Card payments in Germany, a traditionally cash-forward country, have surpassed cash payments for the first time in history, according to reports. A survey by EHI Retail Institute showed that last year, card payments made up 48.6 percent of all retail sales, while cash payments made up 48.3 percent. The main cause for the shift, according to EHI, was a 4 percent increase in sales from Germany’s debit card system, which reached 30.1 percent. Another reason for the change is that trust in card payments is at an all-time high in the country, particularly for younger Germans.