About 5 million credit-card numbers that had been used in purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th and Lord & Taylor stores have been stolen and are being sold in online criminal markets, the parent company of all three department-store chains announced Sunday (April 1).
"We wanted to reach out to our customers quickly to assure them that they will not be liable for fraudulent charges that may result from this matter," the three chains said in identical statements posted on their websites. "Once we have more clarity around the facts, we will notify our customers quickly and will offer those impacted free identity protection services, including credit and web monitoring."
If you think you may have used your credit card at any of these chains between May 2017 and the end of March 2018, the first thing you need to do is not panic. Credit-card holders are almost never held liable for fraudulent charges resulting from theft of card information.
But you still must report any fraudulent or suspicious charges on your account to the card issuer as soon as possible. Look over your most recent card statements for anything that looks strange. For transactions that have taken place since your last statement, call the customer-service number on the back of the card or log into any online account you may have with the card issuer.
If you find something amiss, contact the company that issued the card, not Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks Off 5th. Your card issuer will take it up with the store chains from there, and you will almost certainly be off the hook.
Even though no sensitive personal information such as Social Security/Social Insurance numbers or dates of birth were included with the stolen card data, you should take up the offer of free identity-protection services that the affected companies plan to offer. It couldn't hurt, and will include credit monitoring.
Hudson's Bay Company, the venerable Canadian firm that owns all three chains, was alerted to the theft by a consulting firm called Gemini Advisory, which had observed the card numbers being offered for sale online. Gemini Advisory determined that the card numbers it analyzed had all been used at a Saks or Lord & Taylor since May 2017.
Other chains owned by Hudson's Bay Company, including department-store chains in Germany and Belgium, Home Outfitters in Canada and the Hudson's Bay department-store Chain in Canada and the Netherlands, do not appear to have been affected by the credit-card theft.
However, Saks Fifth Avenue stores in Canada were affected.
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