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Attorney General Peter Kilmartin Warns Consumers of Possible Identity Theft at Michael’s Craft Stores

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin issued a consumer alert today warning consumers who used ATM/Debit cards at Michaels Stores that their personal information may have been stolen.

Michaels Stores has just released information revealing that consumers' debit card information, including their PIN numbers, may have been stolen from their stores in twenty states, including Rhode Island. With the information that has been stolen, identity thieves are able to access debit account and withdraw cash from it through ATMs without your knowledge.

Attorney General Kilmartin strongly advises consumers that it they have used an ATM/debit card recently at any Michaels store, consumers should:

Immediately contact your bank to alert them to the situation and check to see if you are a victim of any unauthorized withdrawals.

Immediately order your bank to disable your current PIN and create a new PIN to stop future withdrawals

You may want to close out your current ATM/debit card and ask the bank to issue a new one.

Review your daily ATM/debit transactions to check for suspicious or unauthorized transactions.

Federal law says debit-card users have only a limited time to report a loss or unauthorized use. Even if reported within two days, a customer can be liable for up to $50 of the fraud amount. If reported between two and 60 days, the customer can be liable for up to $500. If reported later, a customer is in danger of losing all the money. Further, a bank can take up to 10 business days - essentially two weeks - to put back into the account any stolen money, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

“Retailers and companies that have access to consumer's personal and financial information must do a better job to protect it and to inform the public when that information has been compromised,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “With the past incidents of data breaches at major retail and marketing companies, including Sony Online Entertainment and Epsilon Marketing, the information has too slowly made its way to the media and the public. That is simply unacceptable. Companies must use every measure available, including informing the consumer protection units of attorneys general offices across the country, to inform consumers as soon as the breach is identified.”

The Rhode Island Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005 (RIGL 11-49.2) requires companies to inform those affected if information, including Social Security Number, driver’s license number, RI identification card, or account number, credit or debit card number, in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that permit access to an individual’s financial account, are compromised in the security breach.

The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.

Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.

The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams. If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit by calling 401-274-4400 or email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.


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