On August 5, 2008, the U.S. government charged 11 people with stealing tens of millions of credit and debit card numbers from major retailers in one of the largest reported identity-theft incidents on record.
According to a Reuters report, the data theft ring, headed by a Miami man named Albert Gonzalez, hacked into retailers’ computer networks to capture the numbers, which they then stored on computer servers in the United States and Eastern Europe. The consumersâ€™ information was then sold to persons in the US and Europe who used the information to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars at a time from automated teller machines.
TJX, which owns the Marshall’s and TJ Maxx chains, was the hardest hit by the ring, acknowledging in March 2007 that information from 45.7 million credit cards was stolen from its computers. TJX agreed to a proposed class action settlement that offers affected consumers vouchers, cash benefits, credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, and reimbursements. To learn more about the proposed consumer class action settlement visit http://www.tjxsettlement.com/.
TJX also agreed to pay more than $60 million to credit-card networks Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc to settle complaints related to the incident.
“This case clearly shows how strokes on a keyboard with a criminal purpose can have costly results,” Michael Sullivan, U.S. Attorney in Boston, said in a statement. “Consumers, companies and governments from around the world must further develop ways to protect our sensitive personal and business information.”