Hacking: Now it's Michaels Stores that's 'lost' data on millions of credit cards
The time is rapidly approaching when those whose credit card information hasn't been compromised by hackers could form a small and exclusive club. Indeed, it won't be long before they could hold their annual meetings in an elevator.
The latest in a long line of retailers to disclose that its IT systems have been successfully attacked by hackers is Michaels Stores, Inc., which describes itself as "North America's largest specialty retailer of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall decor and seasonal merchandise for the hobbyist and do-it-yourself home decorator." Michaels Stores, Inc. The company owns and operates more than 1,135 Michaels stores as well as 119 Aaron Brothers stores.
Credit card information breached
On April 17, Michaels Stores, Inc. CEO Chuck Rubin issued a statement detailing the breach. Criminals reportedly obtained information concerning debit and credit cards used between May 8, 2013 and Jan. 27, 2014 in Michaels stores and between June 26, 2013 and Feb. 27, 2014 in Aaron Brothers stores. Although only about 7 percent of all the cards processed during that time are likely to have been affected, that still leaves at risk the payment information of nearly 3 million customers.
Michaels Stores reassures customers that the issue (malware illegally loaded onto payment terminals) has been fully analyzed and addressed, and that it is now safe to use cards in Michaels and Aaron Brothers outlets.
What you should do
Michaels.com features an FAQ page especially created for those who might have been affected by the breach. The company offers affected Michaels and Aaron Brothers customers a year of free credit monitoring, identity protection and fraud assistance services. Taking this up seems a sensible move for anyone who shopped at these stores during the relevant period, as does frequently checking the balances and transactions on cards that might be affected.
Those who aren't customers of the retailer can still benefit from credit monitoring services that might alert them early to identity theft attempts. A few of these are now available entirely free of charge, and you can find a richly featured one, provided by an IndexCreditCards.com sister site, at WisePiggy.com.