Consumer Alert: Retailer Security Breach
May Affect Maryland Consumers
TJX Companies, Inc. recently announced that it had determined
that information was stolen from its computer system that processes
and stores information related to customer transactions.
TJX operates several nationwide chains, including Marshalls, TJ
Maxx, HomeGoods, and A.J. Wright. TJX reported that information
regarding credit and debit card sales transactions in TJX's stores
during the period from mid-May through December 2006, and during
2003, may have been accessed. Maryland consumers who shopped at
one of these stores during these time periods and who used a credit
card, debit card or a check to pay for goods, may be affected by
“It is imperative that consumers who may be affected by
this security breach carefully monitor their accounts to immediately
detect any unauthorized use,” said Attorney General Doug
Consumers who believe they may be affected should consider taking
the following precautionary steps:
1. Monitor your credit reports to look for any signs of fraudulent
activity, such as new credit accounts opened that you did not request.
Under federal law,
each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – upon
your request, must provide you with a free copy of your credit
report once every 12 months. To obtain a free copy of your credit
report under federal law, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call
1-877-322-8228, or write to Annual Credit Report Request Service,
P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. In addition to this federal
right, a Maryland resident has the right to a second free annual
copy of his or her credit report. To request a free credit report
under state law, contact the credit reporting companies directly:
Equifax, 800-685-1111, www.equifax.com; Experian, 888-397-3742,
www.experian.com; TransUnion, 800-916-8800, www.transunion.com.
You can request your report from each of the three credit reporting
companies at once, or you can only order one or two at a time.
If you are concerned about identity theft, it could help to stagger
your requests. For example, request one report from an agency this
month, request another report from another agency next month, and
request a third report from the remaining agency the following
month. This may help you spot suspicious activity as soon as possible.
2. You may wish to put a fraud alert on your credit file, which
will alert potential creditors to take additional precautions when
reviewing applications for credit in your name.
You can request a
fraud alert by calling any one of the three credit reporting
agencies at their fraud department numbers below.
The company you call is required to contact the other two so that
they can put a fraud alert on their file too. Ask to add a victim’s
statement to your report, such as, “My identifying information
has been stolen. Contact me at [your telephone number] to verify
all credit applications.” Fraud alerts are placed for at
least 90 days.
Equifax: Report fraud: (800) 525-6285
Experian: Report fraud: (888) 397-3742
TransUnion: Report fraud: (800) 680-7289
You should keep in mind that placing a fraud alert will take
more time for you to open new lines of credit and may prevent you
from opening a new credit account at a store to make an immediate
purchase. These inconveniences may be worthwhile if it prevents
you from becoming a victim of identity theft.
3. Monitor your bank and credit account statements for any signs
of unauthorized activity.
You should look for charges made to your credit card, or withdrawals
from your bank account, that you did not make. Other events that
might indicate fraud include the following:
credit cards that you did not apply for.
- Being denied credit,
or being offered less favorable credit terms, like a high
interest rate, for no apparent reason.
- Getting calls or
letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise
you did not buy.
If you do find fraudulent
activity, you should immediately contact the fraud department
of the bank, credit card or other company
with whom an account has been fraudulently opened or tampered with.
You should also contact the police to file a report. Follow the
steps in the Maryland Attorney General’s pamphlet Identity
Theft: What to Do If It Happens to You, which you can download
by going to www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/idtheft.htm.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website also
has useful information and form letters that identity theft victims
including a fraud affidavit form accepted by many businesses: www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.
TJX has established a toll free customer help line. Callers from
the United States may reach the help line at (866) 484-6978. TJX
has also posted information on its web site at www.tjx.com.