Another Retailer Suffers From Credit Card Number Theft

First it was TJX, with over 45 million credit and debit cards put at risk when the numbers were stolen from their computer servers. Banks and credit card companies had to scramble to replace potentially compromised cards.

Now it's Hannaford Bros., a supermarket chain here in the northeastern US, with 4.2 million cards potentially compromised.

In the Hannaford case, which is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the breach was discovered Feb. 27. Investigators determined irregularities started on Dec. 7. The breach wasn't contained until March 10, the firm said.

As many as 4.2 million credit and debit card numbers were potentially exposed to fraud, and the firm said Monday 1,800 cases of fraud have been related to the breach. But no personal information -- such as names or addresses -- was taken.

The breach involved all of its 165 stores in the Northeast, 106 Sweetbay stores in Florida, and several independent grocers that sell the chain's products, the company said.

I'd seen the story about their trouble, which at first didn't really concern me even though Deb and I occasionally shop at the local Hannaford's. But that changed today when I got a letter from my bank:

Dear Mr. Weekend Pundit,

We have received notification from MasterCard Alert that there has been a compromise at a merchant or retailer. MasterCard is obligated to notify us of such compromises and we wanted you to know that your debit card was included on this list of potentially compromised cards.

The letter went on to explain that they were willing to replace my card free of charge. All I had to do was call their service center number and they'd take care of it. So I did just that and a new card will be on its way to me in about a week.

So let me ask you this: How do you define irony?

Would you believe that Deb and I had replaced our debit cards about 3 weeks ago because we saw charges we couldn't explain or track showing up on out bank statement? We suspected that one of our card numbers had been stolen so we called the bank to cancel our cards and get new ones.

Is that ironic? No, not really. What's ironic is that when we got our new cards and activated them the first place I used mine was at Hannafords!

It figures....

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