Saturday, January 20, 2007

the perils of bargain shopping...

When I was doing a 6-month co-op at 500 Boylston St., I became very well acquainted with the 2-floor Marshalls located in that building. I was there almost every day on my lunch hour. Marshalls is one of my very favorite bargain stores, which is why the announcement last week that TJX Cos., which own both Marshalls and TJ Maxx (another favorite) had their customer information hacked and stolen, made me nervous.

The ever-helpful Susan Wornick of WCVB-5 advises customers to pay attention to credit card bills and bank statements--the law says you are not liable for fraudulent charges.

There is, however, a new development to this story. Apparently, TJX may be fined because they failed to comply with a new industry standard ("TJX Facing Customer Complaints, Possible Fines by Credit Card Firms" by Ross Kerber from The Boston Globe, 01.20.2007):

"Merchants who accept credit cards are supposed to comply with a new international data standard put in place by a group called the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, created in the fall with a dozen employees. Its board includes representatives from Visa, MasterCard, Discover Financial Services, and American Express Co.

The standard lays out how much data companies such as retailers and restaurants can collect and how long they can keep it on file, among other things. The goal is to minimize how much data thieves might find. But compliance rates are notoriously low: Visa says just 31 percent of large merchants have met the requirement.

Financial-services executives have said TJX was among the laggards, which could lead to fines of up to $500,000. TJX spokeswoman Sherry Lang declined to comment."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple of weeks. I can only hope that my credit card information is safe and I can continue to be a loyal Marshall's customer.

Read the whole article here

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