Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.
NEW YORK (AP) — Sears Holdings Corp. announced that it detected a data breach at its Kmart stores that started last month, affecting certain customers' credit and debit card accounts.
The data theft at Kmart is the latest in a string of data thefts that have hit several big retailers, including Target, Supervalu and Home Depot.
The parent company, which also operates Sears stores, says that Kmart detected the breach Thursday but couldn't provide the number of affected cards. However, it said that it was able to remove the malware. It also said that based on a forensic investigation to date, no personal information, debit cards, PIN numbers, email address, and social security information were obtained by the hackers. And there's no evidence that Kmart.com shoppers were affected.
Sears says Kmart immediately launched a full investigation and is working with a leading security firm. It added that it's also working closely with federal law enforcement authorities and banking partners in this ongoing investigation. Kmart is also implementing further advanced software to protect customers' information.
The announcement comes a few weeks after Home Depot, the nation's largest home improvement chain, said that a data breach that lasted for months at its stores in the U.S. and Canada affected 56 million debit and credit cards. That's far more than a pre-Christmas 2013 attack at Target Corp., which compromised 40 million credit and debit cards.
Target's high-profile breach pushed banks, retailers, and credit card companies to increase security by speeding the adoption of microchips in U.S. credit and debit cards. Supporters say chip cards are safer, because unlike magnetic strip cards that transfer a credit card number when they are swiped at a point of sale terminal, chip cards use a one-time code that moves between the chip and the retailer's register.