Identity Theft Goes Maxx

This seems to be becoming a weekly occurrence. From The New York Times:

The TJX Companies, the retailer that operates the T. J. Maxx and Marshalls discount clothing chains, has joined the ignominious list of companies that have had sensitive customer financial data pilfered by identity thieves.
Yesterday the company, based in Framingham, Mass., said that as early as 2003 and during most of last year, an intruder had gained access to a computer system containing the private records of customers, including credit and debit cards, checks and driver’s license numbers.

The article goes on to say that it appeared T.J. Maxx was keeping records, obtained from the point of sale, that “most data security experts advise companies not to keep.”
But I’m sure some direct marketing fucker told them “hey, you could leverage that information to maximize ROI through segmentation, customer relationship management and one-on-one purchase incentive initiatives.”
I’m not paranoid, but this just freaks me out and pisses me off. From now on, when I go shopping, I’m bartering for everything with livestock.
Oh, wait. That might be a problem, too.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.

  • daveednyc

    I’m not saying TJ Maxx isn’t to blame, but the problem is larger than a merchant’s piss-poor computer security or what “some direct marketing fucker” told them to collect. Consumers also need to take more responsibility for protecting their privacy and not expect someone else to do it for them. For instance, some people still foolishly have their drivers license numbers and/or SSNs printed on their checks. Hell, when I’m at a store and asked to provide my zip code, I tell them “20500″. Destination: the White House.

  • http://www.adcolumnist.com Danny G.

    I’ll agree with you there, Daveed. Which is why ID theft and the constant collection of consumer data is a pet peeve of mine, and I continue to call attention to it on AdPulp even though the topic rarely gets comments.
    Consumers (and I include myself in there naturally) need to keep hearing more and more about this. And taking steps to protect themselves or refusing to give out information just because someone asks for it. Giving The White House’s zip code as your own is fine by me.

  • Diane L

    shouda known… I hate the way they ask you for your phone number at TJ Maxx & Marshalls — I always just say “no thanks” when they ask me. I honestly can’t imagine why someone would give their phone number to a retailer…. Not to mention whoever is standing behind you in line, etc. I guess I should have also paid in cash, because it appears that my debit card was compromised and used to buy over $1000 worth of stuff. Of course I don’t know if it is related to this problem, but I have shopped quite a bit at TJ Maxx in the past year.

  • daveednyc

    Danny, I’m with you on the collection of consumer data. And the introduction of RFID chips in credit cards doesn’t exactly give me warm, fuzzy thoughts about the security of my personal finances. Another problem is that consumers don’t even own the detritus of their identities. Those credit cards in your pocket (and the account info that goes with them) are the property of the issuing bank, not you. Same with bank account information.
    Ideally, I’d like to see it change where things like my SSN is legally protected as my own intellectual property. I therefore have legal recourse against those who “take” it without my express permission. Same with account info, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Way it is now, we’re just granted the “privilege” of using those numbers and have no real, legally-binding claim to them.
    But really the only way to change it is through the law, and unfortunately Danny, the Powers that Pay Our Bills also can afford to fund a powerful clique of lobbyists…
    Diane, memorize this number and give it to TJ Maxx or any other merchant who wants your digits: 202-456-1212. It’s the Whitehouse switchboard.

  • Mark H.

    Hello everybody, my company offers a solution to this crazy ID theft problem, if any of you are intersted in learning how to protect yourself from ID theft, email me @
    markjuany@yahoo.com
    Everybody needs some sort of protection from this epidemic, and thats exactly what it is. Please let me know if you want some more information, so I can get it to you. thanks.
    Mark H.
    Southern California