Home Depot (HD) Hack Could Be Biggest Card Breach Ever

(Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)

Morning Money Memo:

The huge hacking attack against Home Depot's payment systems could turn out to be the biggest breach of any retailer's data so far. The company confirmed the data break-in but did not say how many credit and data cards are affected. The total could be as much as 60 million, according to several experts. That would be far more than the total number of cardholders impacted by the breach at Target stores.

There is no evidence that any debit card pin numbers were compromised, but according to security reporter Brian Krebs, who first wrote about the breach last week, "multiple financial institutions … are reporting a steep increase over the past few days in fraudulent ATM withdrawals on customer accounts." The data breach went undetected for six months until banks and law enforcement agencies alerted Home Depot.

The retail breaches have rattled shoppers' confidence at a time when privacy concerns are high. It has also increased pressure on retailers to increase security so that customers can feel safe that their personal data is secure when they're out shopping. Banks may also review their security precautions. Home Depot said that it "strongly" encourages its customers to "review your payment card statements carefully and call your bank or card issuer if you see any suspicious transactions."

Card information for sale on criminal sites that was stolen from Home Depot shoppers "allows thieves to create counterfeit copies of debit and credit cards that can be used to purchase merchandise in big box stores," Krebs said.

Home Depot, which said malware was used in the hack, has announced it plans to have chip-enabled checkout terminals at all of its U.S. stores by the end of this year. The attack could damage Home Depot sales. "I would think if you're a member of the board of directors, somebody has to be the sacrificial lamb for this," Forrester Research analyst John Kindervag says.

Today's new product announcement by Apple could be the company's biggest test in years. Innovative design could make the difference as Apple attempts to rouse the still-slumbering market for wearable computers. The iWatch or bracelet is expected to come equipped to monitor health, help manage homes and even buy merchandise. Apple is a late arrival to wearables, though other companies' efforts haven't gained traction.

If you want to get a new iPhone 6, consider trading in the smartphone you are now using. "Check what the prices you can get for your old phone," Nick Ramen, co-founder of the website usell.com, said. "With just a couple of clicks you can figure out how much your old phone is worth and then you can trade it in and put that value towards your new phone." For example, usell, galaxy.com and other sites are paying as much as $290 for a Verizon iPhone 5S. With the Apple announcement, old iPhone prices are at their peak but will soon drop as people sell their phones. "You should do it as soon as possible," Ramen says.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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