Hackers stole the bank card details of millions of British and American shoppers in what is thought to be the world’s biggest credit card heist, it has been revealed.
The crooks stole 45.7 million credit and debit card numbers from the US and British-based computer systems of the American retailer that owns bargain chain TK Maxx.
The data was accessed on TJX’s systems in Watford and Massachusetts over a 16-month period and covers transactions dating as far back as December 2002.
The company said it did not know how many of the cardholders affected were shoppers at TK Maxx’s 210 stores in Britain and Ireland, although more of them were likely to be American.
Some banks and card companies have already found what they consider to be ‘preliminary evidence’ of possible fraud.
Law enforcement authorities are investigating fraudulent use of payment card information believed to have been stolen.
TJX stressed that about three-quarters of the cards involved had either expired at the time of the theft, or had data from their magnetic strips masked.
Scotland Yard and the Information Commissioner’s Office were informed after the theft was discovered in December.
TJX said the intruder first accessed its systems in July 2005 and on subsequent dates in 2005 and from mid-May last year to mid-January this year. No customer data was stolen after December 18 last year.
As well as card numbers, personal information provided by around 451,000 American customers who returned goods without a receipt was also stolen.
TJX has set up a UK helpline. That number is 0800 779 015.
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