Huge data breach may have put your credit at risk


If you've shopped at Hannaford Bros. grocery stores in the last few months and used a credit card or debit card, your identity and credit could be at risk. The store announced this week that over 4 million credit and debit card numbers have been exposed, and management is aware of 1,800 related cases of fraud so far.

All 165 Hannaford stores in the Northeast were affected, along with 106 Sweetbay stores in Florida . The security breach started on December 7, and wasn't discovered until February 27, which allowed so many account numbers to be compromised. The company says they've fixed the problem, but if you used a card recently at one of these stores, you should take steps to protect yourself.

Start by having your bank or credit card company issue you a new card. Double check account statements to be sure there aren't any unusual charges on your cards. Hannaford officials say no identifying information such as names or addresses were compromised, but it still wouldn't hurt to monitor your credit report.

You're entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Space out those request so you can monitor your credit for free throughout the year.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.