Hannaford shopper files suit in wake of credit card breach

The theft of millions of customer credit and debit card numbers from Hannaford Bros. Co. supermarket

The theft of millions of customer credit and debit card numbers from Hannaford Bros. Co. supermarkets resulted in a class action lawsuit in federal court Wednesday.

Nine days after the Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford announced hackers had swiped sensitive information from customers as they paid for groceries, one of the affected shoppers filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Albany.

Todd Stevens, the affected customer identified in the suit only as a New York resident, is leading the class-action effort. Stevens claims he has suffered “injuries” due to Hannaford’s alleged failure to provide adequate safeguards to protect customer data. The theft has so far resulted in 1,800 cases of fraud and identity theft and prompted banks and credit unions to reissue thousands of credit cards to affected customers.

Stevens is also seeking unspecified damages stemming from Hannaford’s “inexplicable delay” in notifying the public about the breach. Hannaford first became aware of the problem Feb. 27 and did not contain it until March 10. The announcement about the breach came March 17.

“The delay prevented [Stevens and other affected customers] from taking adequate steps to monitor and attempt to safeguard their financial information,” the suit states.

Hannaford spokeswoman Carol Eleazer said the retailer does not comment on pending litigation. Stevens’ attorney, William Ryan Jr., did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

The suit also names as defendants Hannaford’s Salisbury, N.C., parent Delhaize America. Hannaford has 164 flagship brand supermarkets in the Northeast and 106 Sweetbay stores in Florida.

Stevens is seeking relief from Hannaford even though many banks have assured affected customers they will not be held liable for the unauthorized use of their cards. The Portland, Maine-based TD Banknorth, which has had some customers affected by the Hannaford breach, has a Visa Zero Liability fraud protection program that covers customers targeted by identity thefts.

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