Breach, Data Security, Vulnerability Management

Website programming error compromises personal information

A programming error on the website belonging to PLS Financial Services – a Chicago-based consumer financial services retailer – allowed some visitors to access personal information of an undisclosed number of customers.

How many victims? Unknown, but PLS Financial Services employs nearly 4,000 people across roughly 400 centers in the U.S., and posts annual revenues exceeding $250 million.

What type of personal information? Names, addresses, email addresses and Social Security numbers.

What happened? A recent programming change by the company that operates the PLS Financial Services website allowed for certain visitors to access a restricted portion of the site.

What was the response? PLS Financial Services hired a computer security firm to validate the programming error had been corrected, and to look for signs of unusual activity. The retailer notified affected customers by letter and is offering a free year of identity protection services.

Details: The website operator alerted PLS Financial Services of the incident on July 26. There were 34 visitors to the restricted portion of the website from the time the operator made the change on July 11 until it was corrected two weeks later. The 34 visitors were believed to have accessed the website to submit a loan inquiry.

Quote: “We are communicating this information to you because we cannot conclusively rule out the possibility that the contents of the restricted part of the site were viewed,” said G. Clinton Heyworth, PLS Financial Services information security officer, in a letter to affected customers.

Source:, “Master Notification (PDF),” Sept. 18, 2013.

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