After Sandy fraud cases, how safe is our private information?

SANDY, Ore. - In light of a computer virus that stole at least 60 people's credit or debit card numbers in Sandy, how do we know our private information is not at risk?

Following the discovery that a computer virus, malware, potentially infected the Sandy Dairy Queen's computer system or the Fred Meyer gas station's system, concerns mounted over the safety of using credit cards.

Over the past few weeks the Sandy Police Department has received complaints from people all saying their credit card numbers were stolen. The stolen card numbers were used all over the country, including California, Florida and South Carolina.

Police say the malware captures credit card information and sends it electronically to someone else, usually offshore. That person then sells the information on the black market.

We consulted a Portland technology expert, Benjamin Diggles, who alleviated some of these concerns. He said these payment systems are so advanced and secure that only very rarely can they be penetrated.

Diggles stressed that it's the risk we take living in a credit card society.

"I think people should feel very comfortable using their credit card at any vendor," he said. "The reality of it is this stuff does happen. Historically, it has happened and I guarantee you it will happen again in the future."

So if our information is generally safe, why wasn't it safe at a Dairy Queen? Diggles said the malware infection affected the restaurant's credit card processor, not the Dairy Queen itself.

Now that the malware has been identified there shouldn't be any more problems, he said.

The Dairy Queen has taken precautions. On Thursday, the fast-food spot was no longer accepting credit cards.