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March 22nd, 2008

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Consumers Exposed To Fraud

A serious security breach at a currently unnamed major retailer may have exposed hundreds of thousands of consumers and shoppers in the northeastern U.S. to fraud.

More than 70 banks in Massachusetts have been contacted by Visa and MasterCard about this incident. The breach occurred between December and March, according to Massachusetts Bankers Association (MBA) statement made in Monday.

MasterCard characterized the incident as a “potential security breach,” and issued a statement saying that the matter is being investigated by authorities. The credit-card company declined to provide additional details because of the ongoing investigation

Bankers association says that hundreds of thousands of credit and debit cards owned by consumers in Massachusetts and northern New England states could be affected, and is urging consumers to monitor their accounts. The group did not provide any details on how the breach occurred or name the “major retailer” responsible for the breach.

The largest retailer breach to date in the U.S. occurred over a year and a half period starting in 2005, when hackers gained access to computer systems at Massachusetts-based TJX Companies, owners of T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, and Bob’s Stores. That breach affected more than 94 million credit card and debit card accounts.

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