(Adds details about Target breach)
LOS ANGELES, March 22 The California Department
of Motor Vehicles is investigating a possible security breach of
its credit card processing services, but its internal computer
system does not appear to have been accessed, a spokesman said
The disclosure by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in
the nation's most populous state comes at a time of heightened
concern about data breaches following revelations of a massive
theft of payment card records from Target Corp.
"The Department of Motor Vehicles has been alerted by law
enforcement authorities to a potential security issue within its
credit card processing services," spokesman Armando Botello said
in a statement.
He added that the agency has opened an investigation "out of
an abundance of caution" along with federal and state law
The DMV allows clients to pay by credit card in online
transactions and at self-service terminals at some locations,
for transactions such as renewing driver's licenses and vehicle
registrations, Botello said in a phone interview.
He declined to release other details about the potential
breach, including how many customers might have had their data
compromised and the time frame when it might have occurred.
There is no evidence of a direct breach of the DMV's
computer system, Botello said in the statement.
"In its investigation, the department is performing a
forensic review of its systems and seeking information regarding
any potential breach from both the external vendor that
processes the DMV's credit card transactions and the credit card
companies themselves," the statement said.
The blog Krebs on Security first reported the suspected data
breach, citing unnamed sources at financial institutions. It
said the potentially compromised transactions occurred between
Aug. 2 and Jan. 31 and the data that may have been stolen could
include credit card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit
Representatives from MasterCard Inc, Visa Inc,
American Express Co and Discover Financial Services
could not immediately be reached for comment.
MasterCard spokesman Seith Eisen told the Los Angeles Times
the credit card company is "aware of and investigating" reports
of a potential breach involving the California DMV.
Last year, some 40 million payment card records were stolen
from retailer Target, and Congress is investigating the breach
along with lapses at other retailers. Credit card companies have
pushed for better security.
Earlier this year, upscale retailer Neiman Marcus
said a data breach potentially exposed payment card
information at 77 of its 85 stores between last July and
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, additional
reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Editing by
Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)