(Adds CEO comments in paragraph 4-7)
WASHINGTON, Sept 4 Home improvement retailer
Home Depot Inc has been in contact with the U.S. Secret
Service about an alleged major breach of customer and credit
card data that came to light this week, a law enforcement source
told Reuters on Thursday.
Any investigation by the Secret Service appears to be at a
very early stage, the source said.
The Secret Service, which declined comment, usually is the
lead agency in federal criminal investigations into complex
breaches of credit card and other consumer data.
Another law enforcement source said the FBI, which also
sometimes participates in such investigations, does not appear
to be involved. It is unclear whether the U.S. Department of
Justice is playing any role.
Chief Executive Officer Frank Blake told investors at the
Goldman Sachs Annual Retailing Conference on Thursday that Home
Depot and its partners were working around the clock to find a
breach, though he did not confirm a breach occurred.
Blake said Home Depot learned of the possible breach on
Tuesday and chose to communicate what it knew.
He said cybersecurity is a major issue for the company and
that the home improvement chain will have technology to make
credit card transactions safer installed at all its terminals by
the end of the year.
Customer data could have been stolen from nearly all of Home
Depot's 2,200 stores in the United States, according to
information released on Wednesday by security blog
If confirmed, the Home Depot incident could be among the
most widespread in the string of security breaches at U.S.
retailers in the recent past.
Spokeswoman Paula Drake on Wednesday said the retailer is
working with IT security firms, including Symantec Corp
and FishNet Security, to investigate whether there has been a
A Symantec spokeswoman confirmed that Symantec was assisting
with the investigation but did not elaborate.
Home Depot sought to comfort its consumers, promising free
identity-protection services, including credit monitoring, to
any potentially impacted customers and reassuring that the
retailer or the banks that issued the cards will be responsible
for any fraudulent charges.
Home Depot shares were up 1.6 percent at $90.39 on Thursday
morning on the New York Stock Exchange.
Concerns about a potential Home Depot data theft follow a
major breach at retailer Target Corp, where hackers late
last year stole at least 40 million payment card numbers and 70
million other pieces of customer data.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Nandita Bose in
Chicago,; additional reporting by Alina Selyukh in Washington,
and Subrat Patnaik in Bangalore; editing by Ros Krasny, Doina
Chiacu, Matthew Lewis and Cynthia Osterman)