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Credit card companies fined for major data theft

Three credit card companies in South Korea have received substantial fines for their role in the largest-ever incident of financial data theft in the country last month.

In mid-January, the social security numbers and card details of around 20 million South Koreans were stolen when an IT worker at the Korean Credit Bureau accessed data owned by KB Kookmin Card, Lotte Card and NH Nonghyup Card.

The country's total population stands at 50 million, many of whom are children and some of whom do not own credit cards, with the scale of theft meaning that almost every card owner in the country was detrimentally affected to some extent.

As a result, KB Kookmin Bank, Lotte Card and NH Nonghyup Card will each be fined 6 million south Korean won and also banned from issuing new credit cards for three months.

According to the country's Financial Services Commission (FSC), the three firms had "neglected their legal duties of preventing any leakage of customer information".

The three heads of each of the firms involved has since made a public apology for the breach, while several executives have resigned or offered to step down as a result of the incident.

By Gary Cooper