Three South Korean credit card firms punished for data leak

Nurdianah Md Nur

South Korean regulators have fined three credit cards firms — KB Kookmin Bank, Lotte Card and NH Nonghyup Card —for a recent financial data leak.

Besides the six million won fine (US$5,628), the three credit cards firm are banned from issuing new credit cards for three months until 16 May 2014.

"These firms neglected their duties to prevent the leak of customers' information and to comply with internal controls," said South Korea's Financial Supervisory Commission in a statement to the AFP.

Credit card usage is said to be particularly high in South Korea as the average adult in the country owns four to five credit cards and they regularly switch cards to gain better benefits and rewards. The three-month ban on accepting new customers is thus the heaviest state penalty in the country's competitive credit card market so far, according to the AFP.

According to the BBC, a computer contractor working for personal credit ratings firm Korea Credit Bureau stole the financial data of more than 20 million customers in the country by saving it on a USB stick between October 2012 and December last year.  The stolen data included names, social security numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, credit card numbers and personal credit ratings. He was arrested last month.