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    Hannaford, Sweetbay Victims of Data Breach

    All of the two Delhaize banner's stores are affected as customers credit and debit card numbers were pinched.

    Hannaford Bros. Co. said yesterday that it has experienced what it calls a "data intrusion into its computer network," resulting in customer credit and debit card numbers being stolen. The breach affected all 165 Hannaford stores, as well as 106 Sweetbay Supermarket stores in Florida, a sister Delhaize chain; and certain independent operators that sell Hannaford items.

    According to an Associated Press report, the Scarborough, Maine-based chain said 4.2 million unique credit and debit card numbers were possibly exposed to fraud. Hannaford says it knows of "fewer than 2,000" cases of reported fraud connected to the security breach.

    In a letter posted on the grocer's Web site, Hannaford c.e.o. Ron Hodge assured shoppers that "no personal information, such as names or addresses, was accessed. Hannaford doesn't collect, know or keep any personally identifiable customer information from transactions."

    Hodge said the stolen data was limited to credit and debit card numbers and expiration dates, and was illegally accessed from Hannaford's computer systems during transmission of card authorization.

    As soon as Hannaford became aware of "unusual credit card activity," on Feb. 27, it "immediately initiated a comprehensive investigation with the assistance of leading information technology security experts to safeguard customer information and determine the cause," according to a company statement.

    The grocer is also working with credit and debit card issuers and law enforcement authorities to resolve the issue, Hodge said.

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