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Regulator reaffirms harsher measures against card firms over data leak

2014/02/13 15:27

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's financial regulator repeated Thursday that it will sternly deal with a recent massive data breach and overhaul measures to better protect personal information.

Last month, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) revealed that some 20 million clients' personal data, including bank account numbers, addresses and credit ratings, had been leaked from three credit card firms -- KB Kookmin, Nonghyup and Lotte.

There was also a breach at a bank that shared its customer data with its affiliated credit card firm, according to the regulator.

In a report to the parliament, FSC chairman Shin Je-yun said the regulator plans to suspend the card firms' operations for three months, barring them from taking applications for new plastic cards or selling financial products.

"Top executives of the credit card firms will face harsher punishment as well, including dismissals," Shin told legislators.

Following the largest-ever data leak, the government has been working to revise bills on personal information protection. One possible measure is ordering phone operators to block off lines used in illegal financial marketing activities and financial frauds, known as "voice phishing."

The country has been battling financial crimes carried out through phones, but investigators and regulators have been unable to catch up with scam methods that are becoming more and more sophisticated in conning unsuspecting citizens into giving up their personal information.

Also, the financial regulator is pushing to strengthen monitoring of staff at financial companies and their contractors involved in customer data management, and bar financial firms from sharing client data with their affiliates beyond a set limit.

sam@yna.co.kr

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