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Updated: December 11, 2010 04:48 IST

WikiLeaks: credit card attacks hit sales

Guardian News Service
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File photo of a sign for MasterCard credit cards is shown on the entrance to a bank in New York.
File photo of a sign for MasterCard credit cards is shown on the entrance to a bank in New York.

Traders report big drop in sales this week, when attacks on credit card companies started

Emma-Louise Ewing, owner of the Kitty Cat Boutique in Falkirk, Scotland, said she first noticed a problem on Wednesday, the day hackers sabotaged MasterCard’s website in revenge for its decision not to take donations to WikiLeaks. “My credit card sales just dropped off to zero,” she said. “I know I’m a small business, but I do expect to get orders every day.” At first, she thought the fall might have been related to the bad weather, which has been affecting deliveries all week in Scotland, but it was only when she started to receive payments by cheque in the post that she realised the extent of the problem. “I’m still getting the same number of web hits I would expect at this time of year, but unfortunately nothing like the same volume of business,” she said.

Simon Black, managing director of Sage Pay, which serves 32,000 online retailers in the UK, said its systems had gone down for four hours on Monday evening, but that was caused by a separate hardware flaw unrelated to the MasterCard attacks. “Our customers also experienced problems processing MasterCard transactions throughout most of Wednesday, and that was a direct result of the attacks,” he said.

Gareth Mitchell said his ethical gifts business, Tree2mydoor, in Manchester, northern England, had been badly hit by payment processing failures all week. “People have been unable to complete transactions since Monday,” he said. “It should have been our biggest day of the year but sales were down massively when they should have been up. We just couldn’t understand what was wrong.” A spokesman for Paypal UK said: “The action by protesters has had some effect, but the site has been up and running throughout. The service has been slower, but that is because it’s a very busy time of year.”

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