PayPal President Hacked

February 18, 2014

Twitter, the modern equivalent of Mad Libs and the yellow journalism of the late 19th century, has revealed to us a gem of irony that makes the whole Target getting hacked story seem that much more poignant.

No one is safe in this bold new era of credit card hackers and identity thieves. Not even the president of a major payment processing company.

PayPal President David Marcus has been the victim of credit card fraud, he said on Monday. The leader of the online payments company revealed via Twitter that his credit card information had been stolen on a trip to the United Kingdom and he’d racked up a “ton” of fraudulent transactions on his account.

Smart Chip Didn’t Help

Marcus speculated that thieves probably skimmed the info from the magnetic stripe on his card, even though his card had an EMV chip, a technology that makes cards in Europe more secure than the ones commonly used in the U.S.

EMV® chip technology — or EMV — is a worldwide standard for credit and debit card payments based around the use of chip card technology. The acronym stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, who collaborated to create the technology. The goal of this project was to create a card that worked based off of a microprocessor chip that is read by the payment terminal. Because the U.S. has yet to widely deploy embedded chip technology, the nation has increasingly become the focus of hackers seeking to steal such information. The stolen data can easily be turned into phony credit cards that are sold on black markets around the world.

paypal-tweet

Is it Just a Marketing Ploy?

Marcus adroitly used the incident as an opportunity to plug his own company, suggesting that the fraud wouldn’t have happened if the merchant had accepted PayPal. His company is currently trying to expand its presence as a payment option in physical stores, putting it in direct competition with platforms like Square and Google Wallet.

It also comes right when data breaches are major news in the payment processing industry. On December 19 2013, Target confirmed a sophisticated data breach occured. In their press release they stated: “Approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been impacted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013. Target alerted authorities and financial institutions immediately after it was made aware of the unauthorized access, and is putting all appropriate resources behind these efforts.  Among other actions, Target is partnering with a leading third-party forensics firm to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.”

So Marcus’ misfortune happens right at the time identity theft, credit card fraud and hackers are on everyone’s mind. With EMV chip cards being touted as one of the best solutions to the hacking problem, Marcus’ mishap even taps into that buzz.

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