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For Immediate Release
February 7, 2007

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

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 the breach.

“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 Gansler.

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:

  • Receiving 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 or services 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 can use, 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.

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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