Shoe chain says customer data stolen

/ Source: The Associated Press

Credit card information from customers of more than 100 DSW Shoe Warehouse stores was stolen from a company computer's database over the last three months, a lawyer for the national chain said Tuesday.

The company discovered the theft of credit card and personal shopping information on Friday and reported it to federal authorities, said Julie Davis, general counsel for the chain's parent, Retail Ventures Inc. The Secret Service is investigating, she said.

DSW was alerted by a credit card company that noticed suspicious activity, she said.

Customers should check their credit card statements and report any irregularities, Davis said. She did not know how many customers might be affected.

"Our first concern is to make our customers aware of this and maintain a watchful eye," she said.

The information was stolen from a database for 103 of the chain's 175 stores. However, Internet sales from the chain's Web site were not affected, Davis said.

The company also contacted officials of the four credit cards the stores accept — Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover — and banks that issue them, she said. The company also has been consulting with Ubizen, a cyber-security firm.

The number of credit cards involved was sizable, but the Secret Service could not provide a specific number, said Kurt Douglass, special agent in charge of the Cincinnati field office.

"It's way too early to fully identify how this happened, but we have our suspicions," Douglass said, declining to elaborate further.

Reports of theft or loss of credit card and other customer information have broadened in recent months, involving companies including Alpharetta, Ga.-based ChoicePoint Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Natick, Mass.-based BJ's Wholesale Club Inc.