Kmart Becomes Latest Retailer Hit By Data Theft

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Kmart

Sears Holdings Corp. said Friday that a data breach at its Kmart stores that started last month may have compromised some customers’ credit and debit cards.

The data theft at Kmart is the latest in a string of hacks at big retailers including Target, Supervalu and Home Depot.

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Sears Holdings, which also operates Sears stores, said that Kmart’s information technology department on Thursday detected a breach of its payment data systems.

The company was unable to provide the number of affected cards. But it said that based on its investigation so far, it believes no personal information, debit card PIN numbers, email addresses or social security numbers were obtained by the hackers. And there’s no evidence that Kmart.com shoppers were affected.

It said Kmart was able to remove the malicious software from its systems.

The news of the hack is a blow to Kmart’s Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based parent company, which is struggling with losses and sales declines as it fights to stay relevant with shoppers.

Sears said Kmart is working with federal law enforcement authorities and banking partners as it investigates the breach. It is also deploying software to protect customers’ information.

The company said that it will be providing free credit-monitoring protection for customers who shopped with a credit or debit card at Kmart stores during the month of September and through Thursday.

It also emphasized that customers have no liability for unauthorized charges if they report them in a timely manner, according to the policies of most credit card companies.

Sears said that the most up-to-date information will be available on its website, kmart.com and customers can contact its customer care center at 888-488-5978.

The announcement comes a few weeks after Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, said that a data breach that lasted for months at its stores in the U.S. and Canada affected 56 million debit and credit cards.

A pre-Christmas 2013 attack at Target Corp. compromised 40 million credit and debit cards.

The size of the theft at Home Depot trails only that of TJX Companies’ heist of 90 million records disclosed in 2007.

Target’s high-profile breach pushed banks, retailers and credit card companies to increase security by speeding the adoption of microchips in U.S. credit and debit cards.

Supporters say chip cards are safer, because unlike magnetic strip cards that transfer a credit card number when they are swiped at a point of sale terminal, chip cards use a one-time code that moves between the chip and the retailer’s register.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.