Supervalu Inc., one of the nation's largest supermarket chains, has reported a massive data breach that some sources say may have affected as many as 1,000 stores nationwide. Those include:
- 228 Supervalu brand stores, including Hornbacher's, Farm Fresh, Shop 'N Save, Shoppers and Cub Foods locations in Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois, Virginia, Missouri and Maryland.
- Brands that Supervalu recently sold, including every Acme Market, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's and Star Markets location in the country.
- Albertson's markets in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Southern Utah and Southern California.
Supervalu says that the breach occurred between June 22 and July 17, and apparently involved hackers sneaking malicious software into the company's payment processing systems. Company representatives say they have confirmed that there was a breach, but that they are not certain whether the hackers were able to actually collect credit and debit card payment information belonging to shoppers.
“The intrusion was identified by our internal team, it was quickly contained, and we have had no evidence of any misuse of any customer data,” Supervalu CEO Sam Duncan said in a statement to the press.
The investigation is still underway. If hackers were able to gain full access to the information stored in the company's point-of-sale systems, then they could currently have possession of thousands and thousands of names, credit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes, putting people across the country at serious risk of identity theft. If you recently shopped at any of the stores mentioned above, you should keep a close eye on your financial records and be alert for any suspicious spending.
Supervalu says the security of the digital payment systems has been restored, so shoppers can now safely use credit or debit cards in all of the supermarket chain's stores.
This latest breach comes on the heels of numerous security incidents in which cyber-criminals were able to gain consumers' financial information by hacking into the payment systems of major companies. P.F. Chang's recently announced such an incident at dozens of its restaurants, and last year the payment card numbers of 40 million shoppers were taken from retail giant Target. Other companies targeted have included Neiman Marcus and Goodwill.
Banks and merchants have been trying desperately to lock down their vast stores of financial data, but unfortunately identity thieves have thus far proven to be several steps ahead. It's important, therefore, that as a consumer you take extra, proactive steps to guard your privacy.
One way to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of credit fraud is to invest in a credit monitoring service. While it cannot guarantee your security against identity theft, it will alert you to certain indicators that may be cause for concern. Then you can act quickly to request a credit freeze or take other steps to stop fraudsters in their tracks. Additionally, every American consumer is also entitled to one free yearly credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.