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Michigan Michaels Stores Affected by Data Breach

If you shopped at any one of several Michaels stores on several dates last year and early this year, the company says your information was exposed.

Michaels announced that customer information was compromised on several dates in 2013 and 2014. (Patch file photo)
Michaels announced that customer information was compromised on several dates in 2013 and 2014. (Patch file photo)

Michaels, the latest in a string of national retailers to be hit by a data breach, has released a list of stores impacted. The list also includes dates that the arts and crafts retailer says customers' information was exposed.

Several Michaels stores were affected, and dates vary by store, but generally the data breach occurred on:

  • May 8, 2013 - August 10, 2013

  • August 31, 2013 - October 8, 2013

  • October 16, 2013 - November 23, 2013

  • December 12, 2013 - January 19, 2014

When the data breach was made public in late Janurary, the CEO of the Texas-based company, Chuck Rubin, issued a statement that read, in part:

"We recommend that you remain vigilant by reviewing your account statements for unauthorized charges. If you believe your payment card may have been affected, you should immediately contact your bank or card issuer."

Like other retailers that have been hit with a data breach, Michaels was working with federal law enforcement and third-party security experts to determine the origin and scope of the breach.

"After weeks of analysis, we have discovered evidence confirming that systems of Michaels stores in the United States and our subsidiary, Aaron Brothers, were attacked by criminals using highly sophisticated malware that had not been encountered previously by either of the security firms," Rubin said, in a statement issued last week.

Among the findings of Michaels' investigation are:

  • The affected systems contained certain payment card information, such as payment card number and expiration date, about both Michaels and Aaron Brothers customers. There is no evidence that other customer personal information, such as name, address or PIN, was at risk in connection with this issue.

  • Regarding Michaels stores, the attack targeted a limited portion of the point-of-sale systems at a varying number of stores between May 8, 2013 and January 27, 2014. Only a small percentage of payment cards used in the affected stores during the times of exposure were impacted by this issue. The analysis conducted by the security firms and the Company shows that approximately 2.6 million cards may have been impacted, which represents about 7% of payment cards used at Michaels stores in the U.S. during the relevant time period. The locations and potential dates of exposure for each affected Michaels store are listed on www.michaels.com.

  • Regarding Aaron Brothers, the Company has confirmed that between June 26, 2013 and February 27, 2014, 54 Aaron Brothers stores were affected by this malware. The Company estimates that approximately 400,000 cards were potentially impacted during this period. The locations for each affected Aaron Brothers store are listed on www.aaronbrothers.com.

  • The Company has received a limited number of reports from the payment card brands and banks of fraudulent use of payment cards potentially connected to Michaels or Aaron Brothers.

"While we have received limited reports of fraud, we are offering identity protection and credit monitoring services to affected Michaels and Aaron Brothers customers in the U.S. for 12 months at no cost to them," Rubin said. "We also are offering these customers a fraud assistance service for 12 months at no cost to them. This service provides customers with a trained representative to assist them in the event they experience a fraud-related issue resulting from this incident. Information Won the services can be found here."

When big retailers are hacked, they often quickly point out they’ve complied with cybersecurity rules set by major credit card companies and have passed Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council-santioned audits, but that may not be enough, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

The protection a PCI audit offers is often minimal, as it was in the case of Neiman Marcus, Target and other big data breaches.

So what should you do?

Here are five tips from the Better Business Bureau:

  1. Contact the organization that suffered the breach – they should have a hot line setup to address your concerns and answer your questions.

  2. Monitor your banking and credit statements closely – Check every item on your bank statements and credit card statements to be sure they are legitimate charges and expenditures.

  3. Contact any affected financial companies – If your bank accounts, credit card accounts, or investment accounts are affected, immediately contact the companies and request that the account be closed and a new one opened.

  4. File a fraud alert with all three credit reporting agencies – The credit reporting agencies are required by law to flag your credit report for 90 days if you file a fraud alert. Then if someone tries to open a new account using your information you should be contacted for verification.

  5. Sign up for any free credit report monitoring that’s offered. – If the company that compromised your information offers a free monitoring program take advantage of it [One credit report provider is www.annualcreditreport.com].

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