Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaching Comes Home to Roost

In yesterday’s mail was a little surprise for my husband and me. In a bright-yellow envelope marked “urgent” was a printed note from our credit-card company, informing us that our account information had potentially been compromised by an “unnamed retailer” and that, in order to protect us from identity theft, we were being issued a new credit card and account number.

The company requested that we destroy our current credit card.

Because in tandem with my colleagues at Chain Store Age I routinely report on the sizeable security breaches that have occurred of late—TJX Cos. and Gap Inc. among them—I am certainly aware of the havoc wreaked by the leakage of personal information. But until it happened to me, I didn’t personalize it. Now it’s personal.

We found ourselves wondering if it was too late. Had our information already been leaked? Was there some spend-happy criminal out there perpetrating shopping sprees at our expense? If so, would we be held responsible?

My husband and I now count among the thousands—make that hundreds of thousands—of people who have experienced these same fears. You can bet that the next time I report on a newly announced breach, I’ll have a new level of empathy for the cardholders who receive that little note in the mail.

—Katherine Field

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