Customers' credit card details have been stolen from the company that owns the popular TK Maxx cut-price retail chain.
The details were stolen by a hacker who broke into the systems of parent company TJX. The theft has primarily affected US customers, but the company said shoppers in the UK may also have fallen victim.
TJX posted a statement from chairman Ben Cammarata on its website on Wednesday. Cammarata wrote: "We have suffered an unauthorised intrusion into our computer systems that process and store information related to customer transactions. We have promptly alerted law-enforcement authorities and an investigation is underway."
Some shoppers at a range of its stores in the US and Canada have definitely had their card information stolen, while the UK may also be affected. "The company is concerned that the intrusion may extend to the computer systems that process and store information related to customer transactions for TK Maxx in the UK and Ireland," the company said in a separate statement released to the press. It said it was not currently able to confirm such an intrusion.
In mid-December, the hacker broke in to TJX's storage network which contains customer credit card details, according to the company. Following the breach, TJX employed both IBM and General Dynamics, a security integrator, to tighten its network security. The Massachusetts-headquartered company now has a "containment plan" which it says is "appropriate to prevent future intrusions".
In the website statement, Cammarata said: "We strongly recommmend that [customers] review their credit card and debit card statements and other information for unauthorised use." TJX said customers shopping at any of its 200 UK and Ireland stores should contact their bank if their account has been breached. Worried customers were also invited to call TJX on 0800 779015.
TJX said it did not yet know the full extent of the theft and that it would tell customers when it knew more. It did not disclose how the hacker broke in. TJX added that it could not estimate the financial effect of the security breach.
TK Maxx did not immediately respond to requests for comment.