March 29, 2007

Consumer Groups Urge Congress to Make Identity Theft Protections a Top Priority

TJX Data Security Breach Underscores Need for Tougher ID Theft Safeguards

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) New revelations about the data security breach involving TJX Cos., highlight the need for Congress to take tough action to protect consumers from identity theft, consumer groups said today. Regulatory filings made by the company, owner of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, now reveal that computer hackers stole at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards from the company since July 2005. News reports have already indicated that some of the stolen information has already been used to commit fraud.

In the past two years, security breaches have been announced involving approximately 150 million records containing sensitive information about individuals, exposing millions of people to the possibility that their information will be used by thieves. Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, and U.S. PIRG have urged Congress to respond to the rash of security breach scandals by adopting a new law requiring companies to maintain tougher data security practices and to notify consumers when their sensitive personal information has been compromised by a breach in security.

Congress debated a number of such proposals last year, but failed to approve any new protections for consumers. This year, lawmakers have taken up the issue again. Consumer groups are urging Congress to make identity theft protections a top priority given the repeated instances of lax data security that have put millions of consumers at risk of fraud.

Michelle Jun, CU – 415-431-6747
Ed Mierzwinski, USPIRG – 202-546-9707
Travis Plunkett, CFA – 202-387-6121