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Kmart Announces Major Data Breach Affecting Credit Card Information

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Kmart on Friday became the latest retailer to announce a data breach in its payment systems.

Kmart president and chief member officer Alasdair James announced that on Thursday, the company's IT team detected that the store payment systems had been breached. An investigation revealed that someone had deliberately infected the system with new form of malware back in early September, and credit and debit cards numbers were left compromised.

Kmart does not believe personal information such as PIN numbers, email addresses or Social Security numbers were affected. The company also does not believe customers were affected.

The data breach has been contained and the malware has been removed, Kmart said. Anyone whose credit card information might have been stolen will not be liable for unauthorized charges, and Kmart is offering free credit monitoring protection to anyone who used a debit or credit card in one of its stores in September or October up through Thursday.

Guidance on how to watch for suspicious activity on credit or bank accounts is available on the Kmart website, or by calling the Kmart customer care center at (888) 488-5978.

Kmart is also working with federal law enforcement authorities, banking partners and security experts to solve the hack.

This is the latest in numerous data breaches affecting major retailers over the past year, and the second in as many days.

On Thursday, Dairy Queen announced that 395 of its locations – including several in the Tri-State Area, had been affected by a data breach that left credit and debit card numbers vulnerable.

And just last week, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said a data breach affected 76 million households and 7 million small businesses that use its banking services.

Last month, Home Depot confirmed that 56 million credit and debit cards were likely affected by a data breach the breach between April and September at stores in the U.S. and Canada. The breach amounted to the second largest for a retailer on record.

In December of last year, Target Corp. disclosed that about 40 million credit and debit cards may have been affected by the data breach that happened between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, just as the holiday shopping season was shifting into high gear.

The UPS Store, Michaels, SuperValu, P.F. Chang's restaurants, and Neiman Marcus have also been affected by data breaches this year.

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