KmartAdding itself to an ever-growing list of retailers with egg on their faces, Sears Holding Corp. announced on Friday, October 10th, that the payment systems in its Kmart retail stores were breached by malware. According to the Wall Street Journal, this breach was discovered Thursday, October 9th, and is thought to have begun in early September. Like other retail store breaches, the malware was found in Kmart’s payment system and was able to get through because it was undetected by current antivirus software. It has since been removed and contained. Sears assured customers that the security breach was limited only to brick-and-mortar Kmart stores, and did not affect Kmart.com or Sears stores and websites.

What Kmart customer information was exposed?

The preliminary investigation by Kmart has determined that only debit and credit card numbers as well as expiration dates were compromised. It has not been revealed yet how many stores or customers were affected by this breach. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Kmart has said no personal data like social security numbers or email addresses were exposed during this breach.

How is Kmart responding to this breach?

Similar to other retailers who suffered breaches over the past year, Kmart has set up a page on its website to provide up-to-date information on the breach as more information is uncovered. The store will be offering all customers who paid with a debit or credit card in stores through October 9th a year of free credit monitoring service. At this time, Kmart has not disclosed what credit monitoring service it will use, so if you believe you might have been affected you will need to check the website later. Kmart also reminded its customers that they are not liable for any fraudulent charges made on their payment cards as a result of the breach.

What can I do to protect myself?

If you believe there is a possibility your payment card may have been compromised, it is important to check your bank or credit card statements carefully. Keep an eye out for any strange charges and report anything amiss to your bank or credit card company immediately. It is fortunate that no personal information was exposed in this breach, but it is still a good idea to think about identity theft protection. These services monitor your personal and financial information on the black market and public records to ensure it is not being traded, sold or used by thieves. They also monitor your credit reports, and the top services send you regular copies of your credit reports and scores as well as alert you to any suspicious activity. Read more about identity theft services on our review page.