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Hannaford's Apology on Data Breach Hits Stores

Hannaford Supermarkets is communicating with shoppers at store level and online about the massive data breach it had revealed March 17. The Scarborough, Maine-based chain last week began putting easel signs in stores and bags stuffers in with customers' groceries to explain the breach, and suggest what concerned shoppers can do to safeguard their credit card data.

Hannaford spokeswoman Carol Eleazar told Progressive Grocer that the initiative is an extension of the actions the company has taken to engage with consumers on the issue.

President and c.e.o. Ron Hodge had swiftly posted a letter of apology on Hannaford's Web site, which also now features instructions on protecting credit card information in the United States and Canada. The message appearing in stores and bags is a version of the online material, according to Eleazar.

Hodge said Hannaford has retained leading security experts to prevent any further incidents, and will consider, on a case-by-case basis, reimbursing the out-of-pocket expenses of customers who were forced to cancel their credit cards.

At least 1,800 cases of fraud have come to light as a result of the breach, and the grocer has become the target of several class actions filed on behalf of consumers. Hannaford has identified the cause of the breach as "malware," or unauthorized software, that was secretly installed on all of its store servers.

Reader reactions in comments on the Maine Today Web site were mixed, with some locals loyally taking the company's side, while others thought it had performed poorly in terms of both security and public relations.

"I'll stick with Hannaford," noted one commenter. "It could have happened to any company."

A, disgruntled commenter termed the breach "a miserable inconvenience," however, and professed plans to shop elsewhere.
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