Sloppy database management at the parent company for TJ Maxx inspired ABC's lead. Brian Ross reported that computer hackers had obtained 45m pieces of credit and debit card account information over an 18-month period. NBC's Tom Costello also covered TJ Maxx' snafu: "It is not all bad news," he reassured us, relaying the company's assurance that PINs were not compromised, even as he profiled one customer with 100 unauthorized transactions on his debit card.
Ross' worry was that these numbers had been sold on the black market and used for identity theft. He quoted official advice: "Assume you are at risk if you have used your credit card at one of those stores or given your personal information to return merchandise." However he cited only a single example of criminal purchases being charged on those millions of cards: a gang of six has been arrested after suspicious purchases at a Wal-Mart in Florida. So it was hard to tell whether Ross' report constituted a judicious warning of potential vulnerability…or scare tactics.
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