Fraudulent transactions are starting to drain cash from some Home Depot shoppers’ bank accounts in the wake of the massive data breach announced by the retail giant last week that may have exposed 56 million credit and debit cards earlier this month.
The transactions are popping up across the U.S. as criminals use stolen card information to buy prepaid cards, electronics and even groceries, people familiar with the hacking attack told the Wall Street Journal.
The attack on Home Depot is significantly larger and lengthier than the Target hack that compromised some 40 million cards last December. Banks and credit unions have been sifting through debit and credit card transactions for signs of fraud that could be traced back to the Home Depot hacking after spending much of this year scrubbing out fraudulent transactions linked to breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, the grocer Supervalu and Asian restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.
After the breach was disclosed, Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. alerted thousands of financial institutions, telling them to look for fraudulent transactions, as the stolen information included account numbers, cardholder names and card-expiration dates — enough data to produce counterfeit cards.
Last week, Home Depot said it had eliminated the malware used in the breach from its U.S. and Canadian networks and had completed a security project that enhanced protections on payment data in its U.S. stores, with a rollout to Canadian stores by early 2015. The company also noted its third-quarter sales are “on plan” and costs related to the breach are minimal.
While Target’s stock sank nearly 20 percent from record during its data-security troubles, Home Depot’s stock is trading near an all-time high despite the hack. Target’s profits fell in the first and second quarter and reported flat sales in the U.S. over the period, and the company’s chief information officer and CEO both lost their jobs after the breach. Target’s stock has since rebounded. Home Depot is still benefitting from a rebound in the housing market, and consumers don’t have many alternative places to buy plywood, cement, tile and other home improvement materials.
Home Depot’s next earnings report comes in mid-November.