Credit Card Breach Hits Home Depot

Posted September 11, 2014 by cccadmin in
Home Depot Storefront

Photo via Mike Mozart flickr CC BY 2.0

Home Depot is the latest retailer to be affected by a credit card data breach. The home improvement retailer said it’s working around the clock to investigate, and patch up some unusual activity that took place on its network.

With 2,200 stores in the U.S. and 180 in Canada, Home Depot is the shopping destination for thousands of customers every day. Security experts say this breach is similar to one experienced by Target last year. The Wall Street Journal recently report that Home Depot confirmed the breach.

Who May Be Affected by the Security Breach?

Home Depot is being tightlipped about who may be affected by the credit card data breach. Before actually confirming the breach, the company issued the following statement:

“I can confirm we are looking into some unusual activity and we are working with our banking partners and law enforcement to investigate,” said Home Depot spokesperson Paula Drake. “Protecting our customers’ information is something we take extremely seriously, and we are aggressively gathering facts at this point while working to protect customers. If we confirm that a breach has occurred, we will make sure customers are notified immediately.”

Were Canadians who shopped at Home Depot affected by the breach? Right now it’s unclear whether the breach only affected American shoppers. When asked about Canadian locations, Home Depot didn’t offer much insight.

“Right now, for security reasons, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate further — but we will provide further information as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Free Credit Monitoring Offered to Customers

In light of a possible security breach, Home Depot is offering free credit monitoring and identity protection services to customers who used their credit card to make purchases at the retail giant. Although it has yet to confirm a credit card breach took place, this is the first sign it’s concerned enough to take action.

Home Depot is reassuring customers that they won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges.

“It’s important to note that in the event we determine there has been a data breach, our customers will not be responsible for any possible fraudulent charges,” Home Depot said. “The financial institution that issued the card or Home Depot are responsible for those charges.”

Home Depot is encouraging all its loyal customers to keep a close eye for any suspicious activity on their credit card statements. If you see any fishy charges, you should let your issuer know right away.

Following in the Footsteps of Target

This breach makes Home Depot the latest in a string of retailers to fall victim to hackers. Last year Target made headlines when information from as many as 70 million customers was compromised. Similar to Target, Canadians who regularly do cross border shopping at Home Depot could be impacted. Most worrisome is the fact that if a breach took place, security experts say early evidence suggests it could be the same size or larger than the breach experienced by the Bullseye brand.

Playing a Game of Cat and Mouse with Fraudsters

Retailers and credit card issuers find themselves playing a game of “cat and mouse” with fraudsters. Cybersecurity defenders must constantly be on the lookout for possible security breaches, while fraudsters just have to find one flaw and exploit it. Those flaws can be costly – not only do fraudsters gain access to information on thousands of credit cardholders, a retailer’s reputation can be tarnished.

Until Chip-and-PIN credit cards are widely adopted in the U.S. like Canada, we will continue to see credit card breaches like this. Although credit card issuers have zero-liability policies in place to protect cardholders, it can still be a major pain to have your personal information stolen and lead to further headaches down the road.

The Bottom Line

With credit card fraud a regular occurrence, it’s important to be vigilant and protect yourself whenever possible. If you haven’t switched to a Chip-and-PIN credit card, what are you waiting for? Home Depot won’t be the last major retailer to suffer a security breach, so protect yourself today before you’re the next victim.