Columbia shoppers might have been affected by Michaels data breach

Friday, April 18, 2014 | 5:01 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Shoppers who used the Columbia Michaels in late spring or early summer of 2013 might have been affected by a data breach recently confirmed by Michaels Stores, Inc.

The national craft store chain confirmed Thursday that Michaels stores had been affected by a data breach caused by "highly sophisticated malware," according to a release from the company. In January, the company learned that a possible data breach had occurred.

The breach affected different Michaels stores between May 8, 2013, and Jan. 27, 2014. The Michaels in Columbia was exposed from May 8, 2013, to July 29, 2013, according to a list of affected stores. In Missouri, 21 stores were affected.

The two independent firms the company hired to investigate determined that 2.6 million credit and debit cards may have been affected — 7 percent of payment cards used at Michaels stores nationwide during the breach.

Michaels said the breach has been both identified and contained.

Information such as card number and expiration date may have been exposed, but there is no evidence that individuals' names, addresses or PINs are at risk, according to the release.

The company said it will be offering identity protection, credit monitoring and fraud assistance services to affected customers.

“In an era where very sophisticated and determined criminals have proven capable of successfully attacking a wide range of computer networks, we must all increase our level of vigilance,” CEO Chuck Rubin said in the release.

The Michaels breach is among several recent leaks of payment card information.

Target’s pre-holiday breach affected 70 million individuals, exposing names, phone numbers, mailing addresses and email addresses. Retailer Neiman Marcus had a breach weeks later, which resulted in unauthorized charges to credit cards, according to Associated Press reporting.

According to an Associated Press-GfK poll, almost half of Americans are concerned about their personal information being leaked, but a large portion of them aren’t making any changes to protect this information.

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