FAIRFIELD, NJ - This past week The Home Depot disclosed a potential loss of 56 million credit card numbers from their data system. on Tuesday, Sept. 2, the company was alerted by law enforcement that their payment data center may have been hacked. Through the work of the US Secret Service, the company was able to confirm the data breach on Monday, Sept. 8. It is believed that the credit cards involved were used between April to September of this year.
The company's public statement includes the comment, "We apologize for the frustration and inconvenience this breach may have caused."
Home Depot is offering any consumers who may have shopped at their store during that time period free identity protection services, including credit monitoring. Those interested should sign up online here. Those who sign up will first be asked to provide their name and email address, and will then receive an email with information on how to activate their protection account. Anyone who notes unusual activity should report that to their bank.
This apparently does not affect online customers; it only applies to those who made purchases in the store.
The complete statement from Home Depot is shown here:
NOTICE TO OUR CUSTOMERS
We have important information for you to help protect the privacy and security of your personal information, a matter The Home Depot takes very seriously.
On September 8, 2014, we confirmed that our payment data systems have been breached, which could potentially impact customers using payment cards at our U.S. and Canadian stores. There is no evidence that the breach has impacted stores in Mexico or customers who shopped online at www.HomeDepot.com. Additionally, while we continue to determine the full scope, scale and impact of the breach, there is no evidence that debit PIN numbers were compromised. We apologize for the frustration and anxiety this causes our customers and we thank you for your patience and support as we work through this issue.
Our investigation is focused on April forward, and we have taken aggressive steps to address the malware and protect customer data. We are offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who used a payment card at a Home Depot store in 2014, from April on. Customers who wish to take advantage of these services can learn more online or by calling 1-800-HOMEDEPOT.
The investigation began on Tuesday morning, September 2, immediately after we received reports from our banking partners and law enforcement that criminals may have hacked our payments data systems. Since then, our internal IT security team has been working around the clock with leading IT security firms, our banking partners and the Secret Service to rapidly gather facts and provide information to customers.
What data may have been compromised?
Payment card information such as name, credit card number, expiration date, cardholder verification value and service code for purchases made at Home Depot stores in 2014, from April on. For clarity, the cardholder verification value that may have been compromised is not the three or four digit value that is printed on the back or front of your card. At this time, we have no reason to believe that checks were impacted.
Additionally, while we continue to determine the full scope, scale and impact of the breach, there is no evidence that debit PIN numbers were compromised.
What should you do?
It is always a good idea to review your payment card statements carefully and call your bank or card issuer if you see any suspicious transactions. The policies of the payment card brands such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover provide that you have zero liability for any unauthorized charges if you report them in a timely manner.
If you find any indication of unauthorized accounts or transactions, you should report the possible threat to your identity to local law enforcement, your State’s Attorney General’s office, or the Federal Trade Commission. We have provided contact information for some of those entities below as well as certain actions you may take, including obtaining your credit report and placing fraud alerts or credit freezes on your credit file. You should report any unauthorized accounts you see on your credit report to the credit reporting agency from which you obtained the credit report.
To assist our customers who may have been affected by the breach, we are offering free identity protection services, including credit repair services, credit monitoring, and an identity theft insurance policy to any customer who used a payment card at a Home Depot store in 2014, from April on. Affected customers may receive 12 months of identity protection services beginning on September 8, 2014, at no cost to the customer. You may obtain registration information by calling 1-800-HOME-DEPOT or visiting online.
What additional steps can I take?
Order Your Free Credit Report. You are entitled under U.S. law to one free credit report annually from each of the three national credit bureaus, whose contact information is below. To order your free credit report, you can also visit Annual Credit Report, call toll-free at 877-322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form on the U.S.
Federal Trade Commission’s website and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
When you receive your credit reports, review them carefully to ensure that the information they contain is accurate. If you see anything on your credit reports or credit card account statements that appears incorrect, contact the credit reporting agencies and/or your credit card provider, and report suspected incidents of identity theft to local law enforcement, the Attorney General, or the FTC. Even if you do not find any signs of fraud on your reports or account statements, the FTC suggests that you check your credit reports and account statements periodically, or at least every few months, as identity thieves may not use personal information released in a security incident right away. Some businesses
may give victims of security incidents free services; make sure that those offers are legitimate before signing up.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit File
To protect yourself from possible identity theft, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit file. A fraud alert helps protect you against the possibility of an identity thief opening new credit accounts in your name. When a merchant checks the credit
history of someone applying for credit, the merchant gets a notice that the applicant may be a victim of identity theft. The alert notifies the merchant to take steps to verify the identity of the applicant. You can report potential identity theft to all three of the major credit bureaus by calling any one of the toll-free fraud numbers below. You will reach an automated telephone system that allows you to flag your file with a fraud alert at all three bureaus.
Place a Security Freeze on Your Credit File
You may wish to place a “security freeze” on your credit file. A security freeze generally will prevent creditors from accessing your credit file at the three nationwide credit bureaus without your consent. However, please be aware that placing a security freeze on your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prevent the timely approval of any requests you make for new loans, credit mortgages, employment, housing or other services. The credit reporting agencies have three (3) business days after receiving a request to place a security freeze on a consumer’s credit report. You can request a security freeze by contacting and placing an order with each of the credit bureaus at:
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348-5069
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
The credit bureaus may charge a reasonable fee to place a security freeze on your credit file. In order to request a security
freeze, you will need to provide the following information:
1. Your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.);
2. Social Security Number;
3. Date of birth;
4. If you have moved in the past five years, provide the addresses where you have lived over the prior five years;
5. Proof of current address such as a current utility bill or telephone bill;
6. A legible photocopy of a government issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, etc.)
7. If you are a victim of identity theft, include a copy of the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft; and
8. If you are not a victim of identity theft, include payment by check, money order, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover only). Do not send cash through the mail.
Lifting a Credit Freeze:
To lift the security freeze in order to allow a specific entity or individual access to your credit report, you must call or send a written request to the credit reporting agencies by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and social security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze as well as the identities of those entities or individuals you would like to receive your credit report or the specific period of time you want the credit report available. The credit reporting agencies have three (3) business days after receiving your request to lift the security freeze for those identified entities or for the specified period of time.To remove the security freeze, you must send a written request to each of the three credit bureaus by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and social security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze. The credit bureaus have three (3) business days after receiving your request to remove the security freeze.