Data thieves made quite a haul to the tune of 4.2 million credit and debit card numbers several weeks ago when they gained access to the computers of the supermarket chain Hannaford Brothers and Sweetbay. "The stolen data was limited to credit and debit card numbers and expiration dates, and was illegally accessed from our computer systems during transmission of card authorization," said Hannaford CEO Ron Hodge, in a statement posted to the company's Web site. Unfortunately, because Hannaford does not associate addresses or names with its credit card numbers, it is unable to notify those who have had their credit card numbers compromised.
Hannaford became aware of the theft on Feb. 27 following reports of suspicious credit card activity. The crime, which occurred some time between December and March, is one of the largest reported data thefts from a retailer in U.S. history. "Somebody hacked into their system," said Mark Walker, vice president and counsel with the Maine Bankers Association, which started informing its 15 member banks of the breach last Friday. Although only credit and debit card numbers were stolen -- not names or addresses -- Walker said that some cases of identity theft had been associated with the incident.