(BOSTON, Mass. – Jan. 30, 2007 - IDTheftSecurity.com) A data breach at TJX Companies Inc. has reportedly affected millions of past customers of the U.S. retailer, which operates numerous well-known department stores. Amid reports pointing to wide-scale, related credit card fraud, Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, urged consumers to remain vigilant and monitor their financial records statements.
Fraud, identity theft experts, and the news media have been critical of retailers' protocols for the handling of customers' sensitive financial data. "First and foremost, make sure nothing is awry with your credit card statements," Siciliano advised consumers. "Watch your bank statements, too, and contact the credit bureaus to keep an eye on your records. Identity thieves and fraudsters can do a lot with the kind of information typically lost in the type of data breach we've seen unfold these past couple weeks."
Siciliano recently discussed the TJX data breach on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 in Boston, Mass., and WCBS NewsRadio 880 in New York City. President of IDTheftSecurity.com, he leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for data security issues. The Privacy Learning Institute has featured Siciliano, a longtime speaker on identity theft. Author of "The Safety Minute: 01," Siciliano has discussed identity theft and data security on CNBC, on NBC's "Today Show," FOX News, and elsewhere.
On Jan. 17, numerous news organizations ran stories of Framingham, Mass.–based TJX reporting that hackers had breached the company's computer system and made off with customers' financial data and other personal information.
Articles suggested that possible fraud resulting from the crime might eventually affect millions of consumers' credit card and banking accounts, and, on Jan. 25, Vermont's Barre Montpelier Times Argus
reported that driver's license numbers, something customers must provide to return unwanted items, were among the missing information.
According to an article on Jan. 24 in Framingham's MetroWest Daily News
, the Massachusetts Bankers Association has already seen fraud cases associated with accounts that thieves in the TJX-related breach allegedly obtained. A Jan. 27 article in the North Andover, Mass.–based Eagle Tribune
reported that bankers in New Hampshire "are considering going to court over the breach."
"Organizations that suffer massive data breaches like this often have little idea how many records of data are indeed in jeopardy," said Siciliano. "And that kind of uncertainty is dangerous not just for customers, the obvious victims. Burglarized institutions then face their constituents' ire. The possibility of towering expenses related to easily justified class action suits, not to mention the hefty public relations retainer fees for crisis communication, can leave an organizations very survival in question."
Siciliano strongly encouraged anyone possibly affected to obtain tools that help citizens to monitor their own information in the wake of such breaches. Arlington, VA-based MyPublicInfo provides such a tool, the Public Information Profile (PIP), which enables view public records connected to his name and see information accessible to other people performing background checks. This tool provides consumers with user-friendly, complete, and legally conforming personal profiles of aggregated public information.
"Vigilance is the best recourse not only for the short-term, but for the long-term," Siciliano concluded. "Customers must take their financial information—their very identities, in fact—into their own hands. As we've seen all too often in the wake countless data breaches these past few years, when it comes to identity theft, we can ultimately count on nobody to protect us but ourselves."
Identity theft affects us all, which is why Robert Siciliano, president of IDTheftSecurity.com, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients. A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, "The Suze Orman Show," "ABC News with Sam Donaldson," "The Montel Williams Show," "Maury Povich," "Sally Jesse Raphael," and "The Howard Stern Show." Visit Siciliano's Web site, www.IDTheftSecurity.com, or his blog, www.IDTheftSecurity.blogspot.com.
The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:
Personal Security Expert
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)
The media may also contact:
Brent W. Skinner, President