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DSW Shoe Warehouse CC theft


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Shoe Shoppers Become Identity Theft Targets

Report Suspicious Activity To Credit Card Company

POSTED: 2:32 pm CST March 9, 2005

UPDATED: 4:23 pm CST March 9, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Credit card information from customers of more than 100 DSW Shoe Warehouse stores was stolen from a company computer's database during the past three months, Local 2 reported Wednesday.

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 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.

Company officials would not divulge if Houston-area stores were hit.

Local customers had mixed reactions to the news.

"I'm really afraid now. I sure didn't know that. Why weren't (the Local 2 crew) here when I drove up to warn me?" said Vivian Sorey, a concerned shopper.

Lillya Kolonsky bought shoes at DSW Wednesday even after she heard about the fraud.

"I learned about it this morning from the news. I don't think it's going to happen today because now it's under investigation. I'm not worried today about this," she 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.

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

Customers with questions can call a special DSW help line at (800) 314-0224.

DSW posted a customer alert on its Web site. Click here to read it.

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