GTA shoppers worried Saks Fifth Avenue data breach exposes them to hackers

Saks Fifth Avenue shoppers in the Toronto area say they're concerned a data breach has put their personal information into the hands of hackers and other criminals.

Working with 'leading data security investigators' to contain data breach, HBC says

Nalini Polychronopoulous says she was upset that Saks didn't contact her directly about the data breach. Instead, she heard about it through the media. (Doug Husby/CBC)

Shoppers outside several Saks Fifth Avenue locations in the Toronto area say they're concerned a data breach has put their personal information into the hands of hackers and other criminals.

Customers at three Saks Fifth Avenue stores in the GTA may have been exposed to the data breach. Hudson's Bay Company, which acquired Saks and brought the U.S. luxury retailer to Canada five years ago, says personal credit card information from various Saks stores were exposed.   

"I'm concerned that they didn't even have the decency to call me and let me know what was going on, Nalini Polychronopoulous, a Saks credit card holder, told CBC Toronto.

"I think it is a little upsetting that I had to find out that information on my own."

The Toronto woman is worried about the impact of the security breach on her credit and the security of personal information.

"I'm thinking about cancelling my account, because as you know opening an account of any sort you have to give up personal information, including drivers licence and all those other stuff," she said.

"Currently, I don't know where my information is."

'Working rapidly' to contain breach, HBC says

In a written statement, Hudson's Bay Company says it has taken steps to contain the issue and that it no longer poses a risk to customers shopping in its stores.  HBC says it is "working rapidly with leading data security investigators to get the information they need, and the investigation is ongoing".

HBC is also coordinating with law enforcement authorities and the payment card companies.

Here in Ontario, it's believed hackers collected credit card info from Saks stores at Sherway Gardens, Bramalea City Centre and Pickering Town Centre.

Kurt Mull says he'd like to see legislation to protect consumers' personal information. (Doug Husby/CBC)

Outside the Sherway Gardens location,  Kurt Mull thinks there should be legislation safeguarding consumers.

"I'm actually of the mind-set that less government is more, but in this situation I want more government and regulation to protect my information."

HBC is urging its Saks customers to watch their credit card statements and report suspicious charges. The company says shoppers won't be liable for fraudulent charges and it will offer impacted customers free identity protection services, including credit and web monitoring.

Toronto cyber security expert Daniel Tobok is applauding HBC for offering identity protection services but feels too often companies aren't doing enough to keep their customers' personal information safe.

"It's more expensive and I don't think they want to make the investment," Tobok said. 

Most companies don't encrypt the personal credit card information of their customers, Tobok says.

If they did, he says hackers wouldn't be able to decode it, or it would take too much time, and it wouldn't be worth the effort.