Did hackers breach security at yet another national big-box retail chain and gain access to credit and banking information? Home Depot reached out to customers today to offer consumer-credit protections and urge them to review their banking records after discovering a potential security gap in their system, but they’re not waiting to find out:
The home-improvement retailer said Wednesday that it still hasn’t determined whether a breach actually occurred but told customers they won’t be responsible for any possible fraudulent charges on their credit or debit cards if one did.
The company advised customers to closely monitor their accounts and contact their card issuers if they notice any unusual activity. It also promised to offer free identity-protection services, including credit monitoring, to any affected customers if it ends up confirming a breach occurred.
On Tuesday, Home Depot said it was working with banks and law-enforcement agencies to investigate what it called unusual activity that might indicate a possible payment data breach. The company wouldn’t say more precisely what was being investigated, when the unusual activity was discovered or how many stores might have been affected.
One consumer believes he’s been hacked:
Russian and Ukrainian hackers? Quelle surprise. Still, after the series of earlier breaches, this is more than a tad disconcerting. If this is similar to the hack on Target and others, why aren’t retailers and credit card companies better prepared to resist it?
CBS reports that this might involve more than $50 million in losses, which should start providing some incentive to harden the system significantly. The problem is that we will all be paying for the higher security when it comes:
Chip and Pin technology has been implemented in stores in Europe and is now coming to the U.S. The transaction method contains a chip in your credit card with account info, requires a pin for identification, and according to Hobson, is nearly impossible to counterfeit.
“Everyone’s trying to get in front of this new card reader, which has duel verification, which makes the transaction much much safer for retailer and customer,” Hobson said.
The technology will be in use by most retailers within the next 18-48 months — Walmart already employs the technology — but Hobson says the change will come with a hefty price tag.
“The costs are huge,” Hobson said. “An expected $8 billion to change all these systems around the country, but I don’t know how they could pass it on.”
Let’s hope we can find and punish the thieves, too. With the sanctions war between Russia and the West, there probably isn’t much that can be done at the moment, but long memories will be needed.