Bebe Stores says credit card data hacked

The retail chain becomes the latest to suffer theft of customer payment card information

Women's clothing retailer Bebe Stores has become the latest national retailer to be hit by an attack on its credit card payment system.

The company said Friday that the cardholder name, account number, expiration date, and verification code could have been stolen by hackers who apparently had access to the company's payment processing system between Nov. 8 and 26.

The incident came to light in late November when Bebe said it noticed suspicious activity on computers that operate the payment processing system. Stores affected were the roughly 200 it operates in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"If you used a payment card at a U.S., Puerto Rico or U.S. Virgin Islands store during this time frame, you should review your account statements for any unauthorized activity," it said in a message to customers.

The last couple of years have been bad ones for the safety of credit card data at major U.S. retailers. Millions of credit and debit card numbers have been compromised in breaches at retailers, including Target, Home Depot, PF Chang's restaurants, Super Valu grocery stores, Neiman Marcus, UPS Store and others.

In many cases, the attacks were targeted at payment processing terminals and used sophisticated malware that stole card details as consumers swiped their cards. Many of the thefts were only discovered after the card numbers appeared for sale on Internet hacking forums.

Such was the case with Bebe Stores. First news of the hack came earlier this week through the closely followed Krebs on Security blog.

Partly in reaction to the attacks, the U.S. payment industry is moving to a more secure chip-based payment card technology in 2015. The cards have been common in Europe for about a decade and have additional security features that make theft more difficult.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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